The Small-scale Women Farmers Organisation in Nigeria SWOFON were exceptional at the just concluded Rural Women Assembly in Arusha between the 14th – 16th of October 2016 tagged the Kilimanjaro Initiative.
Seventeen (17) women farmers from the platform journeyed out of Nigeria on the 12th of October via an Ethiopian Airway flight to Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Part of the entourage included the National President of SWOFON, Sarah Yapwa, Lovelyn Ejim the National Secretary who also doubles as the Chairperson of the Pan African Rural Women Assembly, Grace Osadojo, SWOFON Financial Secretary, Mary Afan, Ex-Officio, Maria Ukangyang, the Cross Rivers Coordinator, Hannatu Soni, Kaduna state Coordinator, Esther Audu, Chinasa Asonye, Amina Jubrin, Dopse Sandy, Halima Apollos and Beatrice Ubeku among other.
The theme for this year’s event was, Women’s Land Right and SWOFON representatives participated in the opening ceremony, cultural displays and group thematic sessions to draft the Charter of Demands to feature issues surrounding Women’s Right to Land.
Main pull of the event was the Climb by the women farmers to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro to symbolize the challenges facing women and represents the starting point to disseminate the message throughout Africa. Amongst the Climbers were two representatives from SWOFON, Mary Afan and Lovelyn Ejim who are also members of the Pan African Rural Women Farmers Forum.
The climbers who reached the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro were received by a caravan of over 400 women at the foot of the mountain.
It was an historic moment, as African government representatives and International Organisations were overwhelmed by the women climbers as they shared their experience. Celebrities were on ground from Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Senegal to thrill the crowd.
After series of extensive sessions and consultative process involving the women representatives of the Assembly and women’s farmers from over 22 African countries, a Charter of Demands was drafted, endorsed and presented to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma by Lovelyn Ejim the Pan African Rural Women Assembly President.
Dr Nkosazana who was represented at the event, said, “the charter will help strengthen the AU policy position and mechanism on women’s land rights, land rights and it will also contribute to the implementation and execution of Agenda 2063 which emphasizes the need to transform African agriculture to beneficiate and add value to our natural resources. This means a deliberate plan to banish the handheld-hoe to the museum and modernize and mechanize agriculture.
“We have started a campaign to replace the hoe with the tillers and tractors where appropriate in the next ten years.”
The Charter of Demands as presented reads below:
- Sensitization of leaders, (Traditional, Community, Religious and others) youth, people with disabilities and women on the law and policies on land
- Women empowerment by enabling them to access their land rights, technology and financial resources to improve their livelihoods.
- Translate land policies and laws into accessible local languages.
- Sex disaggregated digital inventory to tenure rights within public, community and private lands that all land is identified, recorded and made public for safeguarding.
- 50% participation of women in decision-making bodies and implementation of land issues and matters (including in the valuation of land and payment of compensation for natural resources) so that they can speak and depend their land rights.
- Governments should regulate businesses and investors that pollute
- the environment and adversely affect the environment and the health of communities, especially women and children.
- Governments must avoid land-based investments which forcefully displace rural communities, particularly women and children.
- Women and communities must have a say on who and what kind of investments and companies that invest in their communities. The investor must be obligated to provide information about the impacts of their investment (sustainability – economic, environment, health, social and infrastructural).
- Investments in land should be done in partnership with communities, governments, and investors – jobs; development projects (water, roads, schools, hospitals, etc.); minimum 40% share in profits; environmental protection.
- The challenges of people living with disabilities and other vulnerable groups (people living with HIV/AIDs, widows), namely stigma, discrimination, cultural biases, lack of access to information and infrastructure must be taken into account in all land matters and they must be represented in decision-making bodies and involved in the implementation process.
- Pastoral lands must be recognized and protected by law and other mechanisms.
- Ban harmful and oppressive cultural practices that undermine women’s rights including those that prohibit women to inherit land and other resources.
- Governments should enact laws to provide security and protection of women’s rights defenders.
- Stop persistent farmers – pastoralist conflicts over the use of land and other resources.
- Enact inheritance law to provide and safeguard women’s land rights whenever it does not exist