By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA-AS the world marks the International Women’s Day, IWD, the African Union Economic, Social and Cultural Council, AU-ECOSOCC Nigeria, has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to implement strategies that would empower the rural Nigerian woman.
This was contained in a statement by the Nigeria representative, AU-ECOSOCC Nigeria, Dr. Tunji Asaolu, and Special Adviser, Diaspora, Mrs Chinwe Maduike. According to the statement, the government will collaborate with and mobilise rural women leaders, organisations and grassroots groups to educate them on their rights, and also strengthen local and national initiatives in rural communities that would facilitate establishment of new women’s groups towards compliance.
The statement reads: “The government should also raise awareness of the multifaceted problems still facing rural women communities; educating for advocacy and providing empowerment tools; linking rural women and their communities to the wider international communities; bringing to light the inequalities and lack of progress in many rural areas, its multifaceted aspects of poverty, and the need to generate sufficient government and public support for improving life in rural areas; and rating new synergies at many levels between diverse actors (youth and women included) to empower communities.”
The statement acknowledged that agenda 2063, the promotion of gender equality for the African woman has been given high priority by the African Union and this has been effectively implemented through result-oriented actions both within the secretariat and in member-states with a wide range of international partners.
However, the Council decried the treatment meted out to African rural women who it said remain amongst the most marginalised in terms of exclusion from political and economic power and that they often face numerous violations of their human rights as a result of inter-sectional discrimination, poverty and lack of access to essential services.
“Yet, many African rural women are also at the front lines of human rights advocacy, fighting for a better life for themselves, their families and communities. The obstacles that they face are often formidable, and the issues they raise often put them at risk of violence and abuse.
“In rural Africa, the role played by women is enormous, they produce up to 70 per cent of the food grown on small farms. Yet, they receive only 30 per cent of the support available.
Reducing this gap and leveling the field for women isn’t just fair, it is crucial for the continent’s future: women invest 90 per cent of their income into their family, providing their children with education, medical care and a better future. Rural women represent two-thirds of all illiterate people in Africa.
“Rural African women still own as little as 25 per cent of the land, despite being the backbone of the agricultural sector. Ownership of agricultural assets such as land increases agricultural output which has a critical impact on food security and self-sufficiency.”