A report, Saturday, showed that women empowerment is achievable through increased access to electricity and land resources towards boosting food security and economic growth.
The report came out from two surveys disseminated during a ‘One Day Policy Dialogue on Women in Agriculture, Rural Electrification, and Women Empowerment’ held in Abuja, was organised by Partnership for Economic Policy, PEP. The research was funded by IDRC, CRDI, Global Affairs Canada, and William-Flora Hewlett Foundation.
The dialogue was attended by government officials from the Federal Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development, Women Affairs and Social Development, Rural Electrification Agency, Central Bank of Nigeria, Civil Society Organisations, academia, private sector, and others.
One of the presentations with the theme, ‘Increasing Women’s Access to Farm Land to Improve Food Security, Productivity and Welfare in Nigeria’ by Team Lead for Partnership for Economic Policy, PEP, Dr Emily Ikhide, pointed out that one of the major problems of women in Nigeria is they do not have access to land, and this is one reason their productivity is lower compared to men.
According to Ikhide Women account for 60-79 per cent of rural labour force but are five times less likely to own land. Ikhide said, “Also women don’t have access to some land inputs, and what we did is if women are given some of these inputs what will happen to economic growth, welfare and income including poverty reduction.
“So at the end, we find out that access to land will help female farmers increase economic growth and of course, help increase agricultural productivity and also improve their welfare. “If all these are achieved it will actually help to grow the economy, and ensure food security in Nigeria, which is a major issue in Nigeria now.”
As part of her recommendations, she said, “What we saying is the need to be a law because women do not have access to land. So anything to be done there has to be a law and the government needs to take action; National Assembly, along with State Assemblies to work together to amend the Land Use Act because there is a need that a certain proportion or percentage of land be given to women in farming, particularly rural women in Nigeria that will help improve agricultural productivity.
“The gender productivity gap is a major challenge to agricultural productivity, food security, and the economy as a whole; Increasing women farmers’ access to land would; Increase agricultural productivity in the most efficient manner. But this is not the most efficient from the perspective of cost-effectiveness.” However, she added that “The feasibility and acceptability of this policy option may also be a challenge due to social and cultural norms.
She also expressed optimism that, “With the gender, gap output reduces by six per cent as it is, food prices will continue to increase, the import will continue to increase. When we begin to reduce this gap is by making available farm inputs to women farmers.”
The second presentation of finding with theme, ‘Rural Electrification, and Women Empowerment’ was presented by a Team Member of PEP, and researcher from Center for Petroleum Technology and Law, University of Ibadan, Dr Timilade Sesan, where it indicated that a lot of good policies are formulated but they are not specific to women and do not recognise or acknowledge women’s limitations.
Sesan also explained that the essence of her research was to actually diversify the portfolio of technology to include ones that would not be beneficial to women and affordable to them. On recommendations, she said
“We are really working across ministries and agencies, for example, the Rural Electrification Fund, REF, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, and Ministry of Science and Technology to identify target women groups, how they work, and they already have ways they organise for the policies that are meant for them can actually reach them.
“I think that is a major area we are linking these rural women to for the policies, like the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, we are talking about the Ministries need to work together to facilitate that linkage. She added that “So these are small interventions that can add value to the lives of women. Obviously, it is good for everyone, the reason why we emphasize women because they are coming from disadvantaged position-lower education, assets, capital, access to land, and others.”
Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Nigeria has assured women that it is always passionate to support women in Nigeria to become productive, competitive, and achieve their dream as it has policies in that direction to add value to their lives. Speaking at the dialog, Dr Nurudeen Abubakar from the Development Finance Department of CBN, said the Apex Bank is concerned with women’s access to finance, development, and progress, which the issue of collateral has been simplified, and there are ongoing interventions on the agricultural commodities including rice, maize, cocoyam, others. But Abubakar advised them to be organised to access these interventions as CBN is supporting women, especially under the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the Welfare Officer, Nigeria omen Agro-Allied Farmers Association, Nwokata Beneditta, said women are not given the desired attention, especially those in agriculture, hence government should fulfill promises made to women farmers to boost their morale for greater productivity. Also, National Vice President, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, Nana Aisha Bashir said, CBN should help farmers purchase land.