By Obas Esiedesa

THE Federal Government has been called upon to urgently take steps to address the growing poverty level amongst women of the original inhabitants of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.

With their ancestral lands taken away to make way for the development of Abuja, the nation’s capital, into a modern city, the rising poverty level amongst original inhabitants of the FCT has been blamed on the inability indigenous women to access lands for farming.

Speaking to journalists in Abuja yesterday, the Executive Director of the Centre for Transparency Advocacy, CTA, Faith Nwadishi noted that the marginalization of the original inhabitants from FCT and national politics and economic policies and programmes has led to rising poverty levels in the communities.

Mwadishi who was flanked at the briefing by women of Original Inhabitants Ambassadors Group, Amina Hassan Kassanki, Henshi Zeichibu, and Rebecca Moyi Ahmed, pointed out that indigenous women have been mostly affected as they have been unable to be economically engaged.

According to her, “Indigenous women face significant challenges to the full enjoyment of their human rights as well as experience multiple forms of discrimination which includes lack access to education, health care and ancestral lands.

“They also face disproportionately high rates of poverty and are subjected to violence, such as domestic violence and sexual abuse, including in the contexts of trafficking and armed conflict.

“As the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) has stated, globalization presents additional challenges in many parts of the world. Indigenous women’s roles have eroded due to the compounding factors of loss of natural resources and depletion of the ecosystems, their transformation into cash economies, changes in local, social, and decision-making structures, and their lack of political status within States. This is manifest in the FCT”, she added. 

She stated that policies of the government especially those of the FCT Administration have further impoverished the people.

“It has become a daunting task in the FCT to repeal policies and practices that diminish opportunities for indigenous women and perpetuate their disempowerment. Demolishing structural barriers to eliminate complex oppressions experienced by indigenous women is the major challenge for indigenous peoples throughout the world without the exclusion of the FCT.

“The reluctance of the FCT and the federal government to implement international human rights conventions is a major hurdle in overcoming educational, health, vocational/economic, and political disadvantages for indigenous women in the FCT. Denial of indigenous peoples’ rights has disenfranchised women in the FCT severely”.

Nwadishi therefore called for the protection of economic and political rights of the women and other original inhabitants of the FCT.

“We ask that the rights of women be recognized in the negotiations for community development agreements by including them as community negotiators. That there should be provided basic amenities such as water, energy, basic health care or PHC in the IOs communities”.

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