Barr. Rosemary Inko-Dokubo
Women have been challenged to build up their wealth creation capacity to be able to accumulate what to bequeath to their daughters.
Respected family lawyer, rosemary Inko-Dokubo gave the charge to a mainly women participants at a community training held recently in Port Harcourt by a women empowerment non-governmental organization, Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Center. Theme of the four-day training was ‘The Right to Say No’
Rosemary who trained participants on ‘Women and Customary Law,’ acknowledged that though women struggle over the years has recorded some measured success, a lot of work still needs to be done as the economic base of women generally, still looks unsteady as very few women have access to land and property.
According to her, lack of access to land and property disempowers women as they do not inherit from their parents because of culture.
She advised fathers to include will their daughters in their wills so they can be partakers in inheritance and at the least, document any land/property gifted to a daughter to ensure she does not lose out in case of parental death.
“Fathers should begin to write their daughters into their will because the Nigerian Constitution does not prevent them from inheriting. All, male and female are equal before the law but traditional customs discriminate against women and girls.
“I know of daughters of very wealthy people who are living in lack today because their brothers have taken everything; some who were given properties, land, etc. while their dads were alive, lost them because they had no documentation to back the gifts.”
She said mothers should step up and build wealth to pass on to their female children.
“It is also time for mothers to begin to build their capacity to build wealth and own properties and wealth, so they can transfer these to their daughters,” she advised.
Women and young girls present at the training session recounted how they are sidelined in the sharing of their family inheritance because of being females.
“My father gave me a piece of land which I farmed on till he died a few years ago. I had to stop using it as my brother took over. He even asked me to return a bicycle my father gave me many years ago but the younger brother objected to it,” Sheperdess Mgbemena from Okwuzi Community, Rivers State narrated.
Responding, the senior legal counsel who has handled cases on gender discrimination with landmark success strongly advised that any land, property, business gift to a female child be documented and if possible, backed with witnesses to prolong such.
According to her, “Outside life, land is the most important asset, that is why people die struggling over land. Have documents to your land, survey plans”.
To fathers, she charged, “Don’t make your daughters feel inferior. They are entitled to inheritance.”
Communities were encouraged to step up advocacy for the removal of still existing impediments to women emancipation so women can effectively join in the business of developing society.
Communities where positive changes have taken place like Gbaramotu in Delta State were commended and others advised to emulate them while chiefs present Chief Napoleon Ordu, Eze Ula, Ahoada and Hugh Chief … pledged greater attention to help mainstream gender into their communities.
In their resolution after the training, participants demanded a review of the 1978 Land Use Act which they said makes access to land more difficult for women. They also called for the inclusion of the gender component in the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB and speedy passage; and sincerity in the design and implementation of Environmental Impact Assessment in communities .
The training on Right to Say No according to Kebetkache executive director, Emem Okon, was organized to build and strengthen the capacity of community leaders, especially women, to be able to speak up against evil in their domain as well as resist any attempt to plant projects that will not be beneficial to their people.
“You have a choice; anytime you see something going wrong. Don’t keep quiet over decisions by government or companies; let your opinion be known. Community is stronger as avenue for speaking up. Do not flow with what is wrong,” Emem Okon admonished.