As the world marks the International Day for Rural Women today, Federal Government has been advised to support rural women in small holder farming to address hunger and poverty in the country.
Making this call in a joint statement yesterday, women rights crusaders called for improved access to land and property, agricultural finance, government programmes at national and state levels, as well as gender-sensitive policies and programmes, if women must be empowered to produce more food for the country.
Arguing that rural women constituted about 70 percent of Nigeria’s agricultural labour force with 50 percent living in rural areas, Founding Director, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, WARDC, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, said in spite of their role, they lacked access to agricultural inputs and finance, had less than 14 percent land holding rights, while culture, traditions and discriminatory laws continued to deny them equal access to government programmes.
Ms Mimido Akchapa of Women Rights to Education, WREP, on her part, said that over 90 percent of lands in Nigeria were held under traditional titles and customs controlled by men, while women, as wives or daughters, had little or no access and control over such lands.
Meanwhile, Professor Patricia Donli, Executive Director, Gender Equality Peace and Development Centre, and Jumoke Rasak of the Women Consortium of Nigeria, WOCON, blamed subsequent government at national and state levels for worsening the plight of rural women through the politicisation of development programmes.