By Franca Ofili
Director-General, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Mr Osita Aboloma, said women as “engines of small and medium businesses’’, were key to standardisation in the country.
Aboloma said this in Abuja at the 5th African Day of Standardisation with “The Role of Standardization in Facilitating Human Rights with Particular Focus on the Rights of Women’’ as theme.
He said the role of standards in the promotion of women rights could be viewed from the context of the influence of standards on economic growth, productivity and elimination of poverty.
Aboloma said the world had become a global village and that standards played major role in ensuring product acceptability and breaking of barriers to trade.
He said there was need to inculcate in women the culture of standardisation as a way to drive the reform of the present administration in the country.
“Standards being consensus in nature is not discriminatory and so creates a level-playing ground for all and sundry.
“Women’s active participation in this process should be further encouraged. This process encourages freedom of speech, interpersonal relationships, and in fact, the right to unlimited performance in one’s endeavours.
“Human rights generally involve the right to food, shelter and clothing, among others.
“Our own business is to ensure provision of quality and safe foods, buildings that do not collapse, killing people, clothing that do not cause skin irritations, among others.
“Our watchword is quality and we will be unrelenting in this drive,’’ he said.
Aboloma said that SON would soon commence certification of services offered by Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSMEs), including barbing, tailoring, masonry, cobbling, events management, automobile maintenance and repairs services, car washing and carpentry.
He said that the aim of the certification was to improve the quality of services rendered by practitioners to satisfy the needs of consumers, create orderliness and enhance competitiveness that would promote continual improvement.
Aboloma said that Africa was trying to create a single-standard for EWOWAS region.
“We are trying to break trade barrier through standard,’’ he said.
According to him, Nigerian’s electrical cable is the best but some people still import cable from outside the country and put made-in-Nigeria.
The director-general called on Nigerians to support SON, saying “if you see something unwholesome, say something to SON”.
In a goodwill message, Mr Jean Bakole, UNIDO Representative to Nigeria, said the organisation’s mandate was to enhance the role of women as drivers of poverty reduction, promotion of female investors and entrepreneurs.
Bakole, represented by a UNIDO’s Consultant, Prof. Abimbola Uzoma, added that the mandate also included recognising the link between gender equality and safeguarding the environment.
“The role of standardisation in facilitating human rights, focusing on women is of great importance to the national economic and social-cultural development.
“The awareness being created on women’s right and standardisation is well applauded,’’ he said.
Bakole said that standard could be used to effect changes in characteristics of products and processes that may have strong impact on the response of both consumers and producers.
He said it was a potential tool for sustainable development, adding that it was important that standard was developed and implemented through a participatory and inclusive process.
Prof. Epiphany Azinge, former Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, said gender mainstreaming was critical because most times women were sidelined
Azinge said it was good that SON had decided to bring women into focus.
According to him, the promotion of opportunities that build women’s capacities to be competitive in the continent is significant to the recognition of the rights of women.
“The promotion of gender equality policies that give women entrepreneurs and employees equal opportunities in decision-making will help reduce social vices,’’ Azinge said.