By Victoria Ojeme
The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS is collaborating with The Kingdom of Netherlands to ensure women’s access to, use of and control over land and other productive resources in the region.
This collaboration is essential to ensuring women’s right to equality and to an adequate standard of living, ECOWAS said.
Data from the United Nations shows that rural women, in particular, are responsible for half the world’s food production and produce between 60 and 80 percent of the food in most developing countries.
Speaking yesterday, in a meeting to discuss areas of mutual interest between ECOWAS and the Kingdom of Netherlands, the ECOWAS Commission’s Vice President, Madam Finda Koroma said if the gender gap is to be closed among member states, it is important to ensure that women are not only getting access to land for use but also for business and as inheritance.
“If we raise the gap at member states level, across the 15 member states women are progressively getting access to land that they can register for business and as an inheritance. For instance in Liberia we go to the traditional rulers and ask for the land on behalf of the women,” she said.
Barriers which prevent women’s access to, use of and control over land and other productive resources often include inadequate legal standards and/or ineffective implementation at national and local levels, as well as discriminatory cultural attitudes and practices at the institutional and community level.
In 2014, the Nigerian Supreme Court in Ukeje v Ukeje held as void an Igbo customary law of inheritance, which excludes female children from inheriting the property of their deceased fathers stating it was in conflict with the non-discrimination provisions of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999.
In her speech, the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and International Cooperation Ms. Sigrid Kaag explained that her country is working towards ensuring that youth in the country and developing countries are self-sufficient.
She said “Youths are a priority in our trade agenda which focuses on startups by and for youth in our own country and also for developing countries. So I think there is a tremendous entry point for us to work together. And at the Netherland, we are trying to make a launch.”
“We are using technology, new market stocks in order to enable young people to move out of the traditional sector. And we don’t want to ignore traditional sector, they are the mainstay of the economy and we want to modernize them and the youths agenda deals with employment and employability,” she explained.
According to Kaag, “The development of education is equally important, we have reintroduced investments in education including vocational training, vocational educational formation, and commercialisation back into our development agenda. I believe it is of interest to ECOWAS”.
Giving insights into her government’s engagement roadmap with the ECOWAS Commission, Minister Kaag stressed that the “prevention agenda” is strategic to the peace and security cooperation, towards the enhancement of trade and development as well as the promotion of exclusive economic growth.
Noting that phenomena such as human trafficking and climate change issues have to be tackled headlong while dealing sensibly with seasonal labour migrations, Ms Kaag admitted that time is a limiting factor relative to the scale of work to be done as well as the scope of investment that the cooperation with ECOWAS is to bring about.
On regional trade, capacity building and skill acquisition for sector actors, Minister Kaag said that in line with the recognition being accorded women as traders and the support they deserve, the government of Netherlands was in full support of intra-regional trade and seeks to support capacity-building efforts with favourable trade policies and through its digitalisation strategy.
She enthused that the Orange Corners which have been helping citizens with start-ups, is a testimony to the capacity building and citizens’ development disposition of the government of the Kingdom of The Netherlands which it is also willing to share with ECOWAS.