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International Women Day (IWD)

IWD: Oxfam Nigeria advocates equal access to land for women

Nigerian tribune reports that at the commemoration of the 2017 International Women Day (IWD) across the globe last week, an international non-governmental organisation (NGO), Oxfam Nigeria, while appraising the poverty index of women in Nigeria, re-emphasised its earlier position that women’s deprivation of access to land has a significant contribution to their poverty level.

Citing the United Nations (UN) Report that ranked Nigeria high in terms of gender inequality, Oxfam specifically pinpointed lack of access to land allocation as a major indicator.

According to the UN assessment, lives of Nigerian women are affected by a myriad of discriminatory traditional and socio-cultural practices which put them at a disadvantage in a number of areas compared to men, especially, on the administration of land, which is an indication that women are becoming more likely to be poorer than men.

“For example, in 2016, Nigeria ranked 118 out of 144 countries on the Global Gender Gap Index, having gained seven places from the previous year. Though a marginal gain, a lot still needs to be done to put Nigeria in a better ranking order,” the world body said.

At the marking of  International Women Day held in Abuja, Oxfam, whose Country Director, Jan Rogge, was represented by the Associate Country Director, Evelyn Mere, called on the Nigerian government to demonstrate political will to create a macro-economic policy environment that increases women’s productive capacity as full economic agents, by increasing investments in the agricultural sector.

It also sought a means by which government would create special incentives targeted at women to enhance economic opportunities, productivity and women’s incomes.

“Government must also creates an enabling context with adequate infrastructure that enables women in the informal sector survive and thrive, particularly, granting women access to land, by which they can obtain loans from financial institutions if the land asset is properly documented.

“It must also continue the reform of tax system in Nigeria to foster equity and apply tax resources to increase public spending in key sectors such as agriculture, health and education that deliver economic opportunities and basic essential public services and which address the priority needs and challenges faced by women and girls,” the body said, adding that through such policy intervention, it would be possible to increase the participation of women in decision making, both in the political process and at the higher management cadre of the public sectors.

It also call on the executive and legislative arms of government to incorporate all ratified international treaties on women into domestic laws in order to make the national gender policy actionable.

“The executive must further work with the legislature to ensure passage of the Gender and Equal Opportunities bills into law and the effective implementation of the Violence against Persons Prohibition law.”

In addition, the body noted that private sector has a central role to play in the economic empowerment of women by proactively making gender equality an integral component of corporate strategy. To Oxfam, this simply makes business sense and will have widespread positive impact on both the economic status of women but also on the sustainability of private sector profitability.

“With the present day conversations around shared value, women empowerment principles and the compact on business and human rights, only businesses that are consciously ethical and inclusive in their practices will survive in the long term. Women must be supported to increase their economic power and space created for them to participate in those fastest growing sectors of the economy.”

It also called on donors, International communities, including the civil society organisations to ensure that funding policies prioritise programmes that promote equality between men and women and advances the political and economic empowerment, protection and well being of women and girls in realisation of the SDGs agenda, especially “Goal 5.”

“Civil society organisations and opinion Leaders in Nigeria should commit themselves to supporting women and girls to realise their full potentials; challenge conscious and unconscious bias; call for gender-balanced leadership; value women and men’s contributions equally; and create inclusive flexible cultures that amplify the voices of the unheard,” Oxfam challenged.

Every year for more than a hundred years, the world has set aside March 8 to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The 2017 International Women’s Day again presents an opportunity to continue to challenge Gender Inequality, a situation that robs women of opportunities and denies the world the unique contributions, intuitions and potentials inherent in women. It is a day to push for the elimination of this persisting inequality which negates the opportunity for women to participate equally with men in social, political and economic life.

The theme of the 2017 International Women’s Day celebration speaks to the situation of Nigerian Women and calls on every one to #BeBoldforChange.

Oxfam Nigeria is of the opinion that outside the agricultural sector, majority of women in Nigeria are concentrated in casual, low-skilled, low paid informal sector activities. These include petty trading, small scale producers, service providers amongst other areas.

“Most live on starvation wages that make it difficult to feed their families and educate their children. Working and surviving under very challenging conditions, they are usually the first point of contact for local tax officials who harass, extort and intimidate them in their communities.

“Yet the voices of women are hardly heard on matters of budgeting, and in the spending of the same funds extorted from them.

“The most important area is land administration that excluded 90 per cent of Nigerian women who are actively engaged in farming activities.

Source: Nigerian Tribune

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