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IWD: FoE Calls for Women’s Empowerment, Gender Equality

They slso advocated for concerted efforts to push for environmental justice.

A call has been made for transformative course towards women’s empowerment and gender equality.

The call was made at the weekend by the

Friends of the Earth (FoE) a non- governmental advocacy group and partners during  a virtual press conference to mark the 2024 International Women’s Day (IWD).

At the virtual conference, participants advocated for  concerted efforts to push for environmental justice and gender equality to enhance women’s status in Africa and other parts of the world.

During the landmark conference, the coordinator Forest and Biodiversity Programme of FoE, Rita Uwaka said there is an urgent need to chart a transformative course towards women’s empowerment and gender equality.

She said it has become incumbent on leaders, especially in Africa, to articulate a compelling vision of inclusive governance and gender parity, driven by structures that will give women more opportunities to occupy key decision and policy making positions.

Uwaka, a notable advocate of women empowerment, lamented that women play significant roles in agro-commodity production yet they are denied access to land based on obnoxious traditional and cultural practices that hinder them and reduce their potential.

She called on the government and the media to help strengthen the means to democratize development and make women’s voices heard within international solidarity agencies that promote and support women’s right and permit women more access to land ownership, stressing that “environmental justice cannot happen without gender justice”.

Edna Tabajuika from Tanzania, in her remarks said that “women are the backbone of the societies because they are the primary producers in East Africa yet get fewer benefits because of cultural practices that deny them ownership of land.

She decried the situation where companies in the extractive industries are notorious in grabbing land from women in Tanzania warning that this is leading to food insecurity.   

Tabajuika said: “Food security suffers when women lose access to land, because it leads to economic disempowerment.”

Azeeza Rangunwala from Groundwork based in South Africa in her remarks, highlighted the increasing level of violence against women in South Africa even as she called for a “feminist transition” that will dismantle the patriarchal system that has worked against women emancipation. 

She called for reforms in all arms of government to give women more spaces with an action that will work towards ending the obnoxious ideas and cultural practices that exacerbate the crisis the women are grappling with.

Normor Bee from Liberia in her submission called on women to intensify their pivotal role in shaping the human trajectory. She advocated for new generation of empowered women equipped with the knowledge, skills, through training and capacity building to effect positive change in their communities and beyond.

On her part, Aminata Massaquoi from Sierra Leone in her remarks, said that the issues of policies in plantation areas are rarely talked about. She pointed out that the advocacy groups in Sierra Leone are pushing hard, especially on strengthening the laws that will protect women.

She however noted that in most parts of the world especially in Africa, enhancing the status of women has faced massive impediments due to historical pattern of poor priorities and policies as well as cultural practices that have hindered the women and limited their potential.

It was agreed by all participants that in Africa, women play massive role in agro-commodity productivity as their efforts help to feed the growing population of the continent. However, women have limited access to land in most communities and in many others they face gender violence, unequal pay for jobs and suffer severe exclusion in decision and policy making bodies.

They lamented that women are victims of wars and conflicts like the war in Gaza, where many women have reportedly been killed., and that women also face enormous sexual exploitation during such conflicts which most times plunge them into poverty and deprivation.

Michael Olugbode in Abuja

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