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ECOWAS Summit: Women farmers from ECOWAS member countries demand action on land rights, economic finance

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Ahead of Saturday’s Heads of State summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja, the Pan African Rural Women Assembly (PARWA) has call for immediate and sustainable land empowerment policies for economic empowerment, poverty alleviation and fighting hunger in Africa.
The organisation made the call Friday in Abuja at a joint conference organised by the OXFAM in Nigeria, GROW, Global Conference of Land and Water Struggles, My Land My Life and Women to Kilimanjaro.
The Chairperson of PARWA Nnnena Lovelyn Ejim said that despite many promises, identified challenges remain unattended to and that the ECOWAS Heads of States summit is an opportunity for rural women across Africa to stress the role of women to achieve sustainable development goals.
“Records show that women represent more than 60 percent of the agricultural labour in sub-Sahara Africa. We account for 60 to 80 percent of food production in the continent. We make up almost half of the agricultural labour force and involve in 80 to 90 percent in food processing, storage, transportation, as well as hoeing and weeding.

“Despite this significant contribution, less than 20 percent of women farmers own their farm, whereas women herders who manage almost alone milk production and play an increasing role in small ruminants breeding and poultry farming, do not know at all or have little knowledge on how to secure protection of breeding pasture,” Ejim said.
While saying that despite women’s lack of adequate and secure access tom land, she said they are the first victims of land and related natural resources grabbing, hence threatening the capacity of communities to meet the challenges of sustainable agricultural and food system.
She said: “As the ECOWAS Heads of State are meeting tomorrow (today), we stand again to ask policy makers in West Africa to move from words to actions.
Direct rights to land ownership, land use decision-making power and implementation of existing Malabo declaration, Kilimanjaro statement and others should be acted on.”

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