From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja

The Federal Government on has introduced the “Developing Engineering Leaders Through HER” project, also known as DELT-HER to close the gender gap in Nigeria’s engineering field in the next five years.

Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Khalil Halilu, stated that the launch date was intentionally chosen to coincide with the 2024 International Women’s Day

Halilu spoke during the unveiling ceremony of the project at the agency’s headquarters in Abuja.

According to him, DELT-HER is a platform through which girls and young women can pitch and present their exciting and groundbreaking  engineering ideas, for funding by NASENI through its Presidential Implementation Committee on Technology Transfer (PICTT).

He said: “What we seek to do is close the gender gap in engineering, inspire the next generation, provide financing support for new ideas and projects, and ultimately strengthen the entire engineering ecosystem.

“As you might be aware, women make up half of the population of Nigeria. What this should ideally mean is that women should make up half of all professional spaces in the country. Ideally. But this is far from the reality.

The EVC said that the  global average for female representation in engineering is 28 percent, which is only a little above one in four, noting that in Nigeria, it is only five percent, as only one in 20 Nigerian engineers is a woman.

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“Interestingly, it was just in December 2023 that the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) elected the first female President in its history, Mrs Margaret Oguntala.

“She happens to be the 34th President of the NSE – which means all previous 33 Presidents have been men. This gives one an idea of the starkness of the gender imbalance in the sector:

“It is this imbalance that DELT-HER seeks to correct, by focusing attention and funding on young women, and very importantly, creating and cultivating public awareness around the need to train and mentor more women into the engineering professions.

“This awareness component of the work is one that we will take very seriously, working through schools, and storytelling campaigns.

“We intend to, through DELT-HER, double the number of female engineers in Nigeria over the next five years. This will mean working extensively at the level of secondary education, which is where young girls make the vital decisions regarding choice of professional field.

“It may also be possible to inspire more women to consider studying engineering as a second degree, like we see more commonly in the legal and medical fields. We hope that through our support, we can make the much needed difference.

“Very importantly, we want to contribute to the economic growth and development of Nigeria. DELT-HER will create jobs and help develop technical skills and capabilities. We hope that every additional woman engineer that is emerging can become a role model for another set of women,” he said.