Government urged to implement policies to address hunger, poverty

Federal government have been tasked to implement policies that will support climate resilient agriculture to boost rural women small holder farming, address hunger and poverty in Nigeria.

This was said in a press release issued by the Women Advocates Research and Documentation Center (WARDC) Lagos, Women Rights to Education (WREP) Benue, Women Consortium of Nigeria (WOCON) Osun, Civil Resource Development and Documentation Center (CIRDDOC) Enugu and Gender Equality Peace and Development Center (GEDPC) Abuja.

This call is coming ahead of this year’s theme: Challenges and opportunities in climate-resilient agriculture for gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls. The theme emphasizes the role of women and their importance in enhancing food security and poverty reduction cannot be over-emphasized.

The statement is issued in commemoration of the International Day for Rural Women a United Nations’ designated day to celebrate and honor the role of rural women and their importance in enhancing food production and rural development.

According to the Founding Director of WARDC, “The International Day for Rural Women is set aside to give special focus to the critical place occupied by rural women in the struggle to reduce poverty and improvement of food security especially in developing countries of Asia and Africa. Rural women account for a substantial proportion of the agricultural labor force. In spite of their role, they lack access to Agricultural inputs and finance, they have less than 14 percent land holding rights, while culture, traditions and discriminatory laws continue to deny the women equal access to government programmes at national and state levels. This has negative implications for basic food production and the eradication of poverty. It is therefore imperative for government to ensure that policies are responsive to women and that state budget support eradication of hunger and poverty, harness potentials of rural women particularly the small holder women farmers who provide food for families and the rural communities.

Corroborating her views, Ms Mimido Akchapa of WREP stated that ‘Over 70 percent of land in Africa is held under traditional titles and customs controlled by men. This is also applicable to Nigeria where in some instances, over 90 percent of land are held and controlled by men while women as wives or daughters in many communities have little or no access neither controls over such lands. They continue to suffer in silence due to discrimination on the basis of their gender and not because they have less strength or intelligence to perform rural activities in the Agricultural value chain.  Continued neglect is a threat to climate change and responsive agriculture governance.

While Prof Patricia Donli of GEDPaC is of the opinion that Government has not done enough, she added that ‘The Prioritisation of support for commercial farmers by subsequent government at national and state levels and the politicization of development programmes have also added to the plight of rural women because national budget for the Agricultural sector which targets commercial farmers already exclude rural women from enjoying the benefits of government programmes.’

“Agricultural policies and programmes have remained gender neutral while rural development programmes are often not cash backed hence the perpetuation of poverty and hunger in Nigeria,” Kunle Adeogun of WOCON said

Furthermore, Ms Oby Nwankwo, argues that ‘Nigeria is a signatory to international instruments and policy framework of the African Union and the United Nations which mandate the government to protect and promote the rights of women to land and other development needs. Recent reports from some progressive democracies across Africa such as Kenya and Mozambique suggest that concrete legal steps are being taken to safe guide equal access of men and women to land and properties.’

The women group therefore calls on government to do more in addressing the   Challenges and opportunities in climate-resilient agriculture for gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls in Nigeria.

The group commences a one-week long public awareness program to support Rural Women Farmers with a #womenleadagric

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