Managing Director, Bank of Industry (BoI), Olukayode Pitan, has called on stakeholders globally to put an end to gender-based bias against women in the political space, workplaces, and all spheres of human endeavours.

Pitan gave the advice at the 2022 edition of the BoI International Women’s Day celebration with the theme: “Break the Bias” on Thursday in Lagos.

The BoI MD noted that the 2022 IWD day theme had at its heart, the building of a more inclusive and gender-equal world, aimed at breaking biases.

He said that one of the greatest strengths of humanity was how unique and complex humans were with diverse norms, beliefs and attitudes ingrained in our psychology and deeply rooted in culture and environment.

Pitan, however, noted that this strength was also the source of bias; a significant element in human decision-making affecting interactions with others consciously or unconsciously. He cited that the Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI) for 2020 survey revealed that about 90 per cent of men and women held some sort of bias against women, driven by negative social and cultural norms.

“This bias is a huge part of why women have limited access to education, assets, information, and opportunities for personal and professional development when compared to their male counterparts globally.

“One such bias is that women are weak and not well suited to learn certain skills, further their education or undertake jobs in their desired fields.

“In spite of evidence to the contrary, these gender stereotypes continue to prevent girls and women from obtaining degrees, particularly in fields such as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), which have long been recognised as jobs of the future.

“Though there has been some progress in women’s education, only 35 per cent of women worldwide have STEM degrees based on a report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural organisation (UNESCO).

“This has resulted in a disproportionate representation of women in the labour force of these sectors.

“This shows that more work needs to be done to encourage women to go for these degrees, and transition into the workforce,” he said.

He said that the BoI was constantly working to close the gaps created by bias by its commitment to providing equal opportunities to employees.

Meanwhile, some notable Nigerian women have emphasised the need to end gender bias against women globally by advocating gender parity mechanisms across all spheres of human interactions.

Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs Mariam Katagum, stated that research showed that $28 trillion could be added to global yearly GDP by 2025 if women participated in the workforce at the same rate as men.

As such, the Minister stressed the need to break biases that limited women’s overall involvement in the workforce to accomplish the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development Goals 5, 8 and 10.

She noted that humans had the inclination to form opinions or prejudices about individuals or groups in a way that may be unfair.

She said that the most common type of bias was gender bias, which represented subconscious or conscious attitudes that form the majority of perceptions about a specific gender, usually the female gender.

The Minister noted that the biases hindered women’s progress and made it more difficult to create a level playing field in whatever decision or career choice they make.

Minister, Women Affairs and Social Development, Dame Pauline Tallen, said that the new National Gender Policy 2021-2026 was presented and unanimously approved at the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday.

She lauded women for keeping hope alive even in the face of intimidation and acknowledged their steadfastness at justice and human development.

She charged them to continue to break barriers in politics, business, entrepreneurship, medicine and many other spheres of engagements.

Wife to the Governor of Lagos, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, reiterated Lagos’ stand against gender and sexual based violence said the state had done a lot of campaigns and advocacies in that regard.

She also stressed the need to go back to the drawing board to engender more women participation and representation in politics just as in the private sector.

“We must look at things that have been mentioned here about literacy and gender parity and wake up to break the bias”, she said.