Ac­cess Bank aims at end­ing vi­o­lence against women

As a key stake­holder in im­ple­ment­ing the SDGs in Nige­ria, Ac­cess Bank is help­ing to en­sure no woman is left be­hind, while recog­nis­ing that the dig­nity of all women and girls is of fun­da­men­tal im­por­tance.

Financial Nigeria Magazine - - Contents - Omobolanle Vic­tor-Laniyan is Head of Sus­tain­abil­ity at Ac­cess Bank Plc

Nige­ria joined over 190 coun­tries in 2015 to adopt the United Na­tions 2030 Agenda for Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment. The UN devel­op­ment agenda, com­pris­ing of 17 Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goals (SDGs), stands as the driver for global com­mit­ment to­wards the fight to wipe out poverty, end in­equal­ity and tackle cli­mate change over the next 15 years. The 2030 Agenda ad­dresses the three di­men­sions of sus­tain­able devel­op­ment, namely, so­cial, eco­nomic and en­vi­ron­men­tal, as well as is­sues re­lat­ing to peace, jus­tice and ef­fec­tive in­sti­tu­tions.

As the largest econ­omy in Africa, Nige­ria is a key player in the ef­forts to achieve these global goals. Some of the coun­try's ac­tiv­i­ties have been geared to­wards data gath­er­ing to as­sist in iden­ti­fy­ing needs and track­ing progress. This in­cludes a com­pre­hen­sive data map­ping ex­er­cise, aimed at as­cer­tain­ing the var­i­ous sources of data for the SDG in­di­ca­tors to be mon­i­tored.

The Eco­nomic Re­cov­ery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari also sup­ports the achieve­ment of sus­tain­able devel­op­ment. The Na­tional Bu­reau of Sta­tis­tics, the Of­fice of Se­nior Spe­cial As­sis­tant to the Pres­i­dent on SDGs, and the United Na­tions Devel­op­ment Pro­gramme are col­lab­o­rat­ing on a data-col­lec­tion ex­er­cise for the ad­min­is­tra­tive sta­tis­tics com­po­nent of the SDGs. These ac­tiv­i­ties, among oth­ers, have set the tone for the ad­vance­ment of sus­tain­able devel­op­ment in Nige­ria.

How­ever, the ef­forts to im­ple­ment the SDGs in Nige­ria are driven by both the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors, with sup­port from the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. While sev­eral lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions have made no­table con­tri­bu­tions by pro­mot­ing var­i­ous sus­tain­abil­ity ini­tia­tives, Ac­cess Bank con­tin­ues to play a lead­ing role in the fi­nan­cial sec­tor. Through its award-win­ning sus­tain­abil­ity strat­egy, Ac­cess Bank has shown it is com­mit­ted to lever­ag­ing its peo­ple and part­ner­ships to fight dis­eases in the so­ci­ety, cham­pion in­no­va­tive ini­tia­tives, re­duce en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts and de­velop lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, now and in the years ahead. Ac­cess Bank's un­par­al­leled com­mit­ment to sus­tain­abil­ity aims to make the Bank the Most Sus­tain­able and Re­spected Bank in Africa.

Over the years, the Bank's ar­eas of fo­cus in com­mu­nity in­vest­ment have ranged from ed­u­ca­tion to health, gen­der equal­ity, arts and sports. Many of these ef­forts have helped to widen the Bank's reach in terms of its mar­ket pres­ence and in­di­rect so­cial, eco­nomic and pol­icy im­pacts.

So far, in 2018, Ac­cess Bank has im­ple­mented a num­ber of strate­gic ini­tia­tives aimed at driv­ing devel­op­ment at com­mu­nity level. One of such ef­forts was the part­ner­ship with HACEY Health Ini­tia­tive, a devel­op­ment or­ga­ni­za­tion fo­cused on im­prov­ing the health and pro­duc­tiv­ity of vul­ner­a­ble and un­der­served pop­u­la­tion in Africa.

The part­ner­ship with HACEY took place on the oc­ca­sion of the In­ter­na­tional Day of Zero Tol­er­ance for Fe­male Gen­i­tal Mu­ti­la­tion, which is marked an­nu­ally on Fe­bru­ary 6th. The aim of the part­ner­ship was to raise aware­ness on the need to ad­dress FGM, whilst build­ing ca­pac­ity amongst com­mu­ni­ties to fight against harm­ful prac­tice. Other stake­hold­ers were also suc­cess­fully mo­bilised to join the agenda to elim­i­nate FGM in Nige­ria.

The ad­verse ef­fects of FGM in the lives of women is con­sid­er­able. It is, there­fore, im­por­tant to ad­dress this vi­o­lence against women through tar­geted in­ter­ven­tions and in­creased aware­ness. This would be in line with Goal 5 of the SDGs, which aims to em­power women and girls to reach their full po­ten­tial, and which re­quires elim­i­nat­ing all forms of dis­crim­i­na­tion and vi­o­lence against them, in­clud­ing harm­ful prac­tices, such as child mar­riage and FGM.

Ac­cord­ing to World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO), over three mil­lion girls in Africa are still sub­ject to this harm­ful prac­tice yearly, and over 130 mil­lion girls and women have un­der­gone mu­ti­la­tion around the world. In Nige­ria alone, over 20 mil­lion girls have been sub­jected to FGM. A new re­port by UNICEF high­lights that girls who are 14 years and be­low are most at risk of FGM. Over 90 per­cent of the vic­tims in Nige­ria are cut be­fore they get to the age of five.

Ac­tiv­i­ties that were sched­uled to com­mem­o­rate the 2018 In­ter­na­tional Day of Zero Tol­er­ance for FGM in­cluded a pub­lic sem­i­nar, en­gage­ment of sec­ondary school stu­dents, and oral in­ter­views with sur­vivors – or rel­a­tives of sur­vivors – to col­lect sto­ries on the harm­ful ef­fects of FGM. There was also me­dia en­gage­ment on the need to end FGM, in­clud­ing call-to-ac­tion videos on en­gag­ing the gen­eral pub­lic.

Ap­prox­i­mately 4,700 peo­ple, mostly women, were di­rectly reached on the sub­ject-mat­ter. 70 peer-ed­u­ca­tors were trained on FGM elim­i­na­tion prac­tices. 40 vol­un­teers were mo­bi­lized in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the ini­tia­tive, which reached over two mil­lion peo­ple via strate­gic me­dia cam­paigns and aware­ness.

Ac­cess Bank's part­ner­ship on this ini­tia­tive is in line with the Bank's sus­tain­abil­ity strat­egy, which in­volves ad­dress­ing women's rights, health and so­cial well­be­ing. Some of the Bank's prod­ucts and ser­vices fo­cus on pro­mot­ing fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion of women, to help achieve gen­der-eq­uity in ac­cess to fi­nance and close the gen­der un­em­ploy­ment gap.

The 2030 Agenda is a bold vi­sion that pledges to en­sure no one is left be­hind. As a key stake­holder in im­ple­ment­ing the SDGs in Nige­ria, Ac­cess Bank is help­ing to en­sure no woman is left be­hind, while recog­nis­ing that the dig­nity of all women and girls is of fun­da­men­tal im­por­tance.

Ac­cess Bank has be­come a lead­ing African bank with sus­tain­abil­ity as the cor­ner­stone of its busi­ness phi­los­o­phy. The Bank be­lieves that by de­liv­er­ing so­cial, eco­nomic and en­vi­ron­men­tal val­ues to­day, it can cre­ate share­holder's value to­mor­row. The Bank has es­tab­lished a proac­tive ap­proach to the sus­tain­abil­ity agenda, by work­ing with its em­ploy­ees, cus­tomers and sup­pli­ers to en­sure that the sus­tain­abil­ity agenda sits at the heart of all ac­tions. It is also com­mit­ted to build­ing a last­ing and prof­itable fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tion that op­er­ates in a man­ner that will not com­pro­mise the abil­ity of fu­ture gen­er­a­tions to live in a healthy en­vi­ron­ment and pros­per­ous com­mu­ni­ties.

As one of Africa's largest banks, Ac­cess Bank is driv­ing eco­nomic growth and pros­per­ity within the com­mu­ni­ties in which it serves. The Bank be­lieves the busi­ness will thrive even more, when the peo­ple in sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties, as well as their liveli­hoods, pros­per eco­nom­i­cally. As part of its strate­gic cor­po­rate re­spon­si­bil­ity ob­jec­tives, Ac­cess Bank com­mits each year to chan­nel­ing re­sources to im­pact peo­ple's lives pos­i­tively and re­spon­si­bly. Since 2015, the Bank has in­vested over N3.48 bil­lion in CSR, im­pacted 690 com­mu­ni­ties, and reached ap­prox­i­mately 20 mil­lion in­di­vid­u­als.

The Bank has also in­vested N1.4 bil­lion in ca­pac­ity build­ing pro­grammes for its fe­male em­ploy­ees. Its em­ploy­ees have vol­un­teered a to­tal of over 1.7 mil­lion hours in 142 strate­gic com­mu­nity ini­tia­tives across the six geo-po­lit­i­cal zones of Nige­ria. Ac­cess Bank has shown un­wa­ver­ing com­mit­ment to strate­gic com­mu­nity in­vest­ment as a means to achiev­ing im­por­tant SDGs tar­gets.

Ac­cord­ing to World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO), over three mil­lion girls in Africa are still sub­ject to fe­male gen­i­tal mu­ti­la­tion yearly, and over 130 mil­lion girls and women have un­der­gone mu­ti­la­tion around the world.

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