By Abubakar Yunusa
The UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, has emphasised the urgent need to educate more girls in Science, Technology, Economics, and Mathematics (STEM) fields to enhance access to digital banking services in Nigeria,
She noted this in a keynote address at the 2023 International Conference, Exhibition, and 40th anniversary celebration of the Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN).
The conference, held in Abuja on Tuesday, September 19, 2023, was themed “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Engineering: Embracing Vision, Amplifying Voices, and Shaping the Future.”
In her virtual address, Mohammed addressed the challenges faced by women in engineering, highlighting how stereotypes have long hindered women’s career advancement in STEM industries.
“STEM education is key to securing economic rights for women by extending digital banking services even to rural areas and creating new income and job opportunities to overcome the gender divide,” Ms. Mohammed asserted.
“We must harness the potential of our women and girls to pursue studies in STEM education to transform our societies and achieve sustainable development. Powerful stereotypes have long hindered women’s careers in science and engineering, and today, only 22 percent of STEM graduates are female, and this must change.”
Mohammed called upon both the government and the private sector within the STEM sectors to play a role in narrowing the gender digital divide and eliminating gender bias in leadership positions.
APWEN President, Dr. Elizabeth Eterigho, echoed the sentiment, stating that female engineers are not just catalysts for progress but also agents of empowerment. She emphasised the importance of enabling women to contribute fully to the engineering sector, free from discrimination and bias.
“As we gather here today, we are not just attendees at a conference; we are torchbearers of a legacy that stretches back generations and propels us forward into a brighter future,” Dr. Eterigho declared.
“Together, we can amplify our voice, harness our strength, and shape a future where female engineers are not just participants but leaders and innovators, and where our voice is not just among the voices but a voice that is being heard.”
Tasiu Gidari-Wudil, President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), praised APWEN’s role as a pillar in the practice of engineering in Nigeria. He commended the association for its unwavering commitment to promoting the engineering profession and bridging the gender gap in STEM education.
Sen. Iyiola Omisore, the immediate past National Secretary of APC, highlighted the pivotal role of APWEN in national development. He stressed the importance of professional women engineers’ voices and called on APWEN’s executive members to continue being catalysts for women’s advancement in the engineering profession, both nationally and globally.