Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Women farmers urge implementation of gender law

“The law says that all customs and traditions that discriminate against women are null and void.”

• June 7, 2021
Farmers used to illustrate story
Farmers used to illustrate the story [PHOTO CREDIT: Federal Ministry of Information and Culture]

Women farmers have called on the Plateau government to implement its Gender Equal Opportunity Law (GEOL), to address discrimination against women over land inheritance.

The coordinator of the Country Women Association in Nigeria (COWAN) in Plateau, Jessica Vonkat, said the law protects women from all forms of discrimination and if implemented would ensure women have more access to land for farming.

The COWAN official, however, said that the establishment of a Gender Commission was a requirement for the implementation of the law, as it would coordinate matters on gender issues and pleaded for speedy creation of the commission.

“We are supposed to have a commission to implement it. Without that commission, the implementation would not be easy. So we are pleading with the government to see to it,” she said.

“I am happy about where the law says that all customs and traditions that discriminate against women are null and void. This means that women can now inherit land from their parents.

“This is what we have been advocating for many years. Farmland has been an issue for the past years. We have been going to communities to advocate increased farmlands for women.

“This is because the food consumed in Nigeria and sold in markets are from the rural women. The rural woman farms a quarter of a hectare and it is her food that is in the market. That is why it is currently expensive.

“We are pleading with the state government to help us. Let us put this bill into action to increase our production on the farm,” she said.

Similarly, the national president of Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON), Mary Afan, said that the most burdensome challenge of women farmers in Nigeria is access to land which contributes to the shortage in the food supply.

“Our number one challenge is land. Women do not have access to land. Even when you have access, you cannot control it. The customs and tradition have denied us that.

“Women do not inherit land. Even when you have money and want to buy, nobody will sell land to you as a woman in your name but in the name of your husband or son,” she said.

She said the association, along with other women group in 2016, submitted a charter of demands to the African heads of state on the need to change customary traditions that deny a woman having access and control of land along with its resources.

Plateau is the first state in northern Nigeria to gazette the GEOL in 2018 which was passed in 2015.

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