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Nigeria’s Constitution Guarantees Women’s Property Rights

The Federal Government says the country’s Constitution does not discriminate against women but also guarantees their rights to inherit property. The theme of the event, organised by the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, was “Women’s Property Rights in Africa: Key to economic empowerment’’. PM News reports

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hajiya Khadija Ibrahim, stated this on Thursday at the sideline of event held for Africa’s women parliamentarians at the ongoing UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York.

The theme of the event, organised by the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, was “Women’s Property Rights in Africa: Key to economic empowerment’’.

According to her, Nigerian Constitution provides that all persons must be accorded the right to acquire and hold property irrespective of their gender.

“Our Land Use Act ensures equity and justice in land allocation and distribution and, amongst others, prevents fragmentation of rural lands arising from the application of the traditional principle of inheritance.

“This constitutional provision was developed out of the need to ensure that women contribute efficiently and effectively to national developmental process,’’ she said.

The minister’s speech was delivered by Nigeria’s acting ambassador to the UN, Anthony Bosah, following the cancellation of her flight on Tuesday due to snowstorms.

According to her, women’s property rights constitute the cornerstone of economic development upon which women derive their livelihoods.

“Indeed, women constitute more than half of the world’s seven billion population and those that resides in developing countries produce 60 to 80 per cent of global food supplies.

“They, however, own less than 10 per cent of the land they cultivate.

“It is widely acknowledged that countries with viable political and financial commitment to gender equality in property rights have developed faster, and achieved greater food security and higher social and health standards,’’she said.

The minister pointed out that the African Protocol on the Rights of Women placed an obligation on States to “promote women’s access to control productive resources such as land and guarantee their right to property”.

She also noted several other actions on the status of women that affirmed the objective of ensuring gender equality, women empowerment, and encouraged measures to enhance women’s access to natural resources.

According to her, economic and social empowerment of women is a potent force for positive change while persistent gender inequalities remain a huge obstacle to economic growth.

Ibrahim said enhancing women’s property rights required a mainstreaming, to attract both political and legal attention, saying it also entails administrative viability and social acceptability.

“To achieve this, African Parliamentarians have a fundamental role to play. They must initiate laws to address the limitations to women’s ownership of property.

“Every nation must recognise and should accept that women’s property rights are ultimately in the interests of the public.

“It is only through the acceptance of this fact that they can generate the popular support required for positive change,” she said.

Chairperson, House of Representatives Committee on Women Affairs, Hon. Stella Ngwu, noted that while the Nigerian Constitution guaranteed women’s property rights, in reality, the rights of women are neither equal nor protected.

Ngwu noted that the country’s social, cultural and religious diversity had compounded the challenge of women’s property rights,

She stressed the need for aggressive reforms to be able to seek redress.

The lawmaker called for the political will on the part of the executive arm of government, saying that no matter how good a law is, its effectiveness is dependent on the implementation.

Source: PM News

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