BY: VITALIS UGOH, Calabar
Women from two local government areas of Cross River State, have condemned non inclusiveness of women in land allocation and acquisition by the state government and Multinational companies operating in their areas.
It would be recalled that Wilmer PZ Nigeria limited, and other multi national companies have acquired large expanse of land through the state government for oil palm plantations and other forms of farming in Akamkpa and Biase local government areas of Cross River State.
As a result of this, women are denied access to farmland which had constituted the major causes of dissatisfaction among community people in recent time.
Following this ugly development, the community women, men and youths of Akamkpa and Biase local government areas are demanding that “women should be involved and incorporated into community decisions making and that there should be a stop to further expansion of plantations into the remaining forest landscapes so as to prevent deforestation and biodiversity loss as this is the mainstay of livelihood for the rural community.
Speaking onbehalf of women from the two local government areas in a press briefing on “gender inclusiveness on Oil Palm Campaign and Advocacy”, Princess Umoh Philomena Essien, condemned women oppression and deprivation by both community leadership and multinational companies and called for the empowerment of women through education, grants and access to credit facilities as well as monthly stipends.
Essien also said “women should be allowed legal rights to own land whether married or unmarried, while land grabbing should be discouraged in order to stop food insecurity and total erosion of livelihood sustainability options in communities”
She said that the activities of Wilmer PZ had adversely affected the rural people through livelihood sustainability options loss, unemployment, loss of income generation sources, occupational dislocation, health challenges and increase in poverty rate and low standard of living due to high cost of living by the community people.
She stated that ” of gender inclusiveness in land resourced governance, access to land resources, rights to land resources, tenure rights security simply brings about the concerns raised and can bring crises vis-a-vis community and youths restiveness, disorderliness and other social and economic problems in our communities”.
Therefore, she said, “the rights of the people must be protected and their land and the associated resources be protected especially the women who seem to be less privileged gender in our communities”.
The press briefing was after a workshop on the theme “Capacity Building On Gender Mainstreaming To Enhance Gender Inclusiveness In Communities”, organised by Environmental Right Action (ERA)/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (FoEN) in collaboration with Community Forest Watch, NGO Coalition For Environment (NGOCE) and Movement for the survival of Ogoni people (MOSOP).
Participants were drawn from academia, Civil Society Organisations CSOs, CBOs, traditional rulers, women, community people and the media.