Nigeria has said its constitution does not discriminate against women, but also guarantees their rights to inherit property.The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hajiya Khadija Ibrahim, stated at the sideline of the event held for Africa’s women parliamentarians at the ongoing UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York.
A statement on Friday by the foreign affairs ministry noted that the Nigerian Constitution provides that all persons must be accorded the right to acquire and hold property irrespective of their gender.
“Our Land Use Act ensures equity and justice in land allocation and distribution and, amongst others, prevents fragmentation of rural lands arising from the application of the traditional principle of inheritance.
“This constitutional provision was developed out of the need to ensure that women contribute efficiently and effectively to national developmental process,” she said.
The minister’s speech was delivered by Nigeria’s acting ambassador to the UN, Anthony Bosah, following the cancellation of her flight on Tuesday due to snowstorms.
According to her, women’s property rights constitute the cornerstone of economic development upon which women derive their livelihoods.
Indeed, women constitute more than half of the world’s seven billion population and those that reside in developing countries produce 60 to 80 percent of global food supplies, she said.
“They, however, own less than 10 percent of the land they cultivate.
“It is widely acknowledged that countries with viable political and financial commitment to gender equality in property rights have developed faster, and achieved greater food security and higher social and health standards,” she said.
The minister pointed out that the African Protocol on the Rights of Women placed an obligation on States to “promote women’s access to control productive resources such as land and guarantee their right to property”.
She also noted that several other actions on the status of women that affirmed the objective of ensuring gender equality, women empowerment, and encouraged measures to enhance women’s access to natural resources.
According to her, economic and social empowerment of women is a potent force for positive change while persistent gender inequalities remain a huge obstacle to economic growth.