Empowering girls and women is not a threat but one of the smartest social and economic decisions that a nation can make, Minister of Finance and Coordinator of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has said.
She made the remark in Abuja at a National Gender Policy Dialogue jointly hosted by the World Bank Nigeria and the Department For International Development (DFID).
She said that the World Bank gender report argues that empowering girls and women is a resource that adds to a nations GDP growth.
She said "We talk about natural resources and sources of growth, what this report is telling us are that girls and women are sources of growth for the economy. So it's actually a matter of vital economic growth of this country that we focus on girls and women.
"I am saying in addition to the fact that we are 80.2 million women in this country but because men are used to hearing this, we have got to find a better way to deliver this powerful message that its more than about our being half of the population of this country but it's about the fact that a country will fall behind if it does not see its girls and women as a growth opportunity for the economy."
She explained that any serious discussion about Nigeria's future must entail discussion about girls and women on the role they play and the barriers they face in making the future a good one for the country.
Women have made progress in the country but the fact still remains that they lack behind men in many areas she said, adding that gender inequality have direct effect in economic growth, poverty reduction and the welfare of the next generation.
"We have just heard that figures on female mortality and education level particularly in parts of our country are not at par with what you find in any of the poorest countries of the World and that's why we find it shocking and unacceptable,"
She said that her ministry is targeting to launch a special competition strictly for women in the You Win programme where about 80,000 to 100,000 entrepreneurs are being targeted.
Related stories: CNN's Walter Rogers writes women are the future of Nigeria