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Women farmers call for implementation of gender laws to address land inheritance

By Martha Agas

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

Mrs Jessica Vonkat, Coordinator of Country Women Association in Nigeria (COWAN), Plateau branch, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Jos.

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

She said the law protects women from all forms of discrimination in politics, economy, traditions and social issues among others, and if implemented would ensure women have more access to land for farming.

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

“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.

“Why I am happy about the law is where it 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’ home.

“This is what we have been advocating for many years, increasing farmlands to women and if possible inheritance and, this bill have just answered that. Farmland is 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 who farms a quarter of a hectare, it is her food that is in the market, and that is why it is currently expensive.

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

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

“Our number one challenge is land, women do not have access and control of 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 would 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 demand to African Heads of States, on the need to change the land and those customary traditions that deny a woman having access and control of land along with its resources.(NAN)

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