BY BAYO AMODU, Abuja
As Heads of State in West Africa converge in Abuja for Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, summit, Nigerian rural women have charged them to enforce major reforms in land rights for women at regional level and in each country under ECOWAS.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, a coalition of women rights group in conjunction with OXFAM, called on the leaders in the sub-region to move from words to action, direct right to land ownership, land use decision-making power and protection against grabbing.
Giving this charge at the event, chairperson, Pan African Rural Women Assembly Nigeria, Mrs. Ejim, said in addition to having access to land for women, the leaders need to make funding targeted at assisting rural women available and ensure that access to such funds is made easy. According to her, women are reiterating their demand as contained in the Kilimanjaro Charter titled ‘Charter of Demands: Actualising Women’s Land Rights in Africa.’ ‘‘In West Africa, from Nigeria to Mauritania through Ghana, Togo, Benin, Mali, Burkina Faso and Senegal, rural women still face three major challenge equity in the area of access to land, safety of operating and investment by women and protection and preservation of women’s land rights. Women are not only limited to play major roles in cash crops, staple-food production, processing, or marketing as holders of local, traditional knowledge in farm seed conservation and natural resources management.”
According to her, records show that women represent more than 60 per cent of the agricultural labour force in sub-Saharan Africa. ‘‘We account for 60 to 80 per cent of food production on the continent,’’ she said.
Also speaking at the event, a rice farmer, Chinasa Asonye, said people go hungry because women don’t have access to land. She said women should be given access to land since agriculture, according to her, is the surest way to empower people.