Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth (ERA/FoEN) and other stakeholders have said practice of gender inequality in land governance has increased poverty and deprivation among women in the society.
The Executive Director, ERA/FoEN, Dr. Godwin Ojo, who was represented by a lecturer at the University of Calabar (UNICAL), Dr. Ralph Offiong, said this at the weekend, during a validation workshop on review of Land Use Act 1978, yesterday, in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
The event was organised by ERA/FoEN in collaboration with Community Forest Watch, Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), and others. The theme was: ‘’Legislative Backing and Land Use Reforms.”
Ojo decried the abuse of the Land Use Act of 1978, saying: The Land Use Act has robbed communities, mostly women of their means of livelihood…”
He was optimistic that the Model Land Use Bill that was submitted to Cross River State House of Assembly would address most of these concerns and improve the livelihood of women and local communities.
The lead consultant and legal practitioner, Mr. Nurudeen Ogbara, in his presentation, entitled, “Review of Land Use Act 1978 and Proposed Model Laws to Promote Community and Women Rights,” said: “The Modern Land Use Bill (MLUB) would transform relations among individuals, communities, and government, address certain rights violation issues by promoting human rights within the context of land and livelihood. ..”
“By promoting gender equality, the MLUB will increase women membership in the Land Use and Allocation Commission (LUAC) management from three to six, but not exceeding 13 of both male and female…”
Speaking on “Strategies for Women Involvement in Land Reform” Dr. Rebecca Enuoh of the University of Calabar, said gender inequality in law was related to poverty and exclusion of women.
Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture, Charles Ekpe said the House would take all issues raised into consideration as “Law is for everybody.”
He urged communities and stakeholders to give accurate information to help in passing the bill, which “is for our overall benefit. This is very important at this stage and we are not rushing the bill so as to come up with what will boost women’s participation”.
Also speaking, House Member, representing Yala1, Mrs. Regina Ayongo commended ERA for giving women a voice through the review of the Land Use Act of 1978.
Ayongo, who lamented that women were marginalised for too long, said she proposed a bill of Gender Inequality but the bill had not been passed by the State House of Assembly and promised to take the fight for the women further.