• Saturday, June 15, 2024
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BusinessDay

Rural women set to mobilise, seek support for land rights, inheritance

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Rural women in Nigeria will, in the next couple of days, be gathering in their thousands for an event aimed to mobilise and sensitise the public and seek their support for women land rights and inheritance.

The gathering, already slated for March 10, will also be engaging decision makers and other relevant stakeholders to build a strong base for support towards the actual climax of land right campaign in the country.

Across West Africa, rural women will also be taking a stand and will stand up for their Land-Rights-Now. In Niger, Mauritania, Ghana and Burkina, these women will be marching and/or protesting, and will take part in different other activities the following day in Nigeria, Mali, Benin and Senegal, where the West African caravan of convergences on water and seeds will meet.

Beyond popular mobilisation, the caravan will put together different kinds of activists, whether they fight for gender, transparency, justice and/or land access. Common messages will be put together within a green book that shall be delivered to Macky Sall, current ECOWAS chair.

A statement obtained by BusinessDay notes that in West Africa, from Nigeria to Mauritania through Ghana, Togo, Benin, Mali, Burkina Faso or Senegal, rural women still face three major challenges bordering on equity in and secure access to land, safety of operating and investment by women and the protection and preservation of women’s land rights.

These women, according to the statement, are the first victims of land and related natural resources grabbing, adding that all these and more together threaten the capacity of communities to meet the challenges of sustainable agricultural and food systems today and tomorrow.

“Women do not only play major roles in cash crops, staple-food production, processing or marketing. As holders of local and traditional knowledge in farm seed conservation and natural resources management, they also play a critical role in the transmission of traditional knowledge to future generations. That is why women should be leaders in the transition to sustainable agricultural and food systems,” explains Constant Tchona, head of programmes, Oxfam in Nigeria.

The March 10 event is seen as another opportunity to stress the crucial role of women to achieve sustainable development goals, and specifically for the ‘grow’ campaign focusing on poverty alleviation and zero hunger.

Experts are of the view that women represent more than 60 percent of the agricultural labour in sub-Saharan Africa, adding that they account for 60 to 80 percent of food production on the continent just as they are involved in 80 to 90 percent in food processing, storage and transportation as well as hoeing and weeding.

Despite this significant contribution, only 15 percent of women farmers own their farm, whereas women herders who manage almost alone milk production and play an increased role in small ruminants breeding and poultry farming, do not know at all or have very little knowledge on how to secure protection of breeding pasture.

While rural women are a powerful driver for agricultural development, their potential is still hampered by the disparities between men and women.

Oxfam believes that if women farmers had the same factors of production and opportunities as their male counterparts in the world, they would be able to increase their crop yields by 20 to 30 percent and help prevent millions of people from starving.

“Oxfam will continue to engage Nigerian government and businesses to provide secure access to land for smallholder farmers and especially for women who often do most of the work on the land, but face the biggest battle to call it their own,” Constant Tchona says.