By Abigael Joshua
The Federal Government on Tuesday in Abuja said it would continue to work towards removing all barriers that inhibit women’s right to access to land.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, said this at a stakeholders dialogue on combating land degradation and gender equality.
The dialogue was part of the activities to commemorate the 2023 World Desertification and Drought Day.
Idris was represented by Ms Mabel Emmanuel, the Director Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought Management, in the ministry.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of 2023 World Desertification and Drought Day is: “Her Land. Her Right: Advancing Gender Equality and Land Restoration Goals”.
“We cannot shy away from the fact that women have unequal and limited access over the control of land. Women hold a vital stake in the health of the land, yet they often don’t have control over land.
“In all parts of the world, women face significant barriers in securing land rights, limiting their ability to thrive and prosper.
“And when land becomes degraded and water is scarce, women are often the worst affected.
“Investing in women’s equal access to land and associated assets is a direct investment in their future and the future of humanity,” Idris said.
He said that the theme aimed at drawing attention to the critical role of gender equality and inclusiveness in tackling land management issues.
He added that similarly, the theme also aimed at “achieving land degradation neutrality and sustainable livelihoods and welfare of the vulnerable groups, especially the women.
“Land degradation is currently one of the world’s most pressing environmental problems and it is expected to worsen especially in Nigeria with increasing population unless remedial action is taken.
“Land degradation affects everyone through food insecurity, higher food prices, climate change, environmental hazards and the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services”, he said.
The permanent secretary said that it was time for women and girls to be at the forefront of global land restoration and drought resilience efforts.
“It is therefore pertinent for us to join the global community to revisit and review our land laws.
“We must find ways to promote women’s access to, use of and control over land and other productive resources because it is essential to ensuring their right to equality and to an adequate standard of living.
“These resources help to ensure that women are able to provide for their day-to-day needs and those of their families, and to weather some of life’s most difficult challenges,” Idris said.
He said that the obstacles which prevent women from effectively enjoying these rights are complex and to a large extent context specific.
“We will not only identify these challenges but we must find ways of addressing them, accurately and timely.
“Women are agents of change and they are drivers of climate change adaptation as well as sustainable development.
“I am very optimistic that today’s dialogue will bring needed solutions to all the issues faced by women in today’s society,” he assured.
Speaking in her capacity, the Director Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought Management said that numerous studies and experiences worldwide have confirmed that gender inequalities must be addressed.
Emmanuel worried that women are often the most affected by drought, land degradation and desertification, notably, land is the most critical economic resource for most rural people.
“Lack of ownership and control over land by women around the world exposes them to poverty, hunger, gender-based violence, and displacement.
“Women are often excluded from land registration and ownership systems, making them vulnerable to eviction and land grabbing.
“In Nigeria and many other countries, women have unequal and limited opportunities to access, own or inherit land in their name,” she said.
The Director Programmes, Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), Dr Akintunde Babatunde, urged stakeholders to figure how lands can be maximised based on the theme.
“At CJID, what we do is to leverage the tools for Journalism, data and research to see how we can create an environment where the media can create ideas for transformative change.
Babatunde urged that more lands be allocated to the women to increase survival value.
Dr Salisu Dahiru, Director-General of the National Council for Climate Change, said his agency would partner with the Ministry of Environment and other stakeholders on land restoration.
Dahiru said that the need to restore land for prosperity is tied to human survival. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Isaac Aregbesola