Stakeholders seek inclusion of women in government contracts

Unless Nigeria achieves gender balance in infrastructure development, bridging the country’s over $100 billion to $150 billion yearly gap may become elusive.

Stakeholders, who gathered at a programme by the Women in Infrastructure Community Africa (WICA) in Abuja, noted that there is a need for women to be included in designing and implementing infrastructure growth.

The women, drawn from many institutions, including the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), noted that balancing the gender gap would enable the country to achieve sustainable development goals.

They also decried the exclusion of women in public sector contracts as women only get about five per cent public sector contracts in Nigeria.

Speaking on ‘Inspiring Inclusion for Sustainable Infrastructure Delivery in Africa’, President of WICA, Dr Olajumoke Akiode, stated that the rate of women’s inclusion in infrastructure delivery was still very low even though there are women engaged in all the facets of the infrastructure sector.

According to her, there are women with certificates in engineering, architecture, urban planning and others, who are adding value to other sectors.

Akiode, while delivering her lecture at the programme, which was a part of the event to mark International Women’s Day said the entry rate to careers in the infrastructure sector was very low for women, noting that the drop-out rate is high and the non-gender office environment with its glass ceilings makes it difficult for women to navigate the journey to the top in the sector.

She noted that it was critical to close the gender gap in Infrastructure delivery because infrastructure remained central to human development.

She insisted that women needed to be considered in the conception, design and delivery of infrastructure for the sector to be accessible and beneficial to all.

Akiode said it is worrisome that women account for only five per cent of government contracts in Nigeria, stressing that the development must be reversed if all education stakeholders including the parents do more to encourage girls to take an interest in STEMS courses.

She canvassed the re-introduction of introduction to technology to primary and secondary schools’ curricula so that there are more girls enrolled in STEM disciplines in the universities.

“When the number of graduates increases, the work and business environments become gender aware in practice, there is a high likelihood of more female construction entrepreneurs and professionals bidding for contracts,” Akiode said.

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