NIGER DELTA WOMEN’S CHARTER OF DEMAND: NDWM CHARTER OF DEMANDS

FOREWARD

NIGER DELTA WOMEN’S CHARTER OF DEMAND: NDWM CHARTER OF DEMANDS

The discontent, agitation and occasional violence that have plagued the Niger Delta region for the past quarter of a Century have left women and children some of the most affected populations in the Region. With the notoriously poor management of the region’s environment and the economic fallout from the oil and gas industry, ongoing discussions and negotiations over the future development of the region have excluded women’s inputs and participation on issues their issues affecting them. In such a highly contested political and economic environment, the gap between men and women does not seem to be closing. This also means that their social status and economic wellbeing of women has not been prioritized and so things have not changed significantly. Not surprisingly, a cycle of unpredictable and increased violence has threatened the very foundation of social and economic life in many communities. The connection with women is largely on account of the social burden which they carry. Culturally, they have been the main sustenance bearers for their families and communities. When the Region is threatened with violence, the stable structures that supported meaningful engagement by women in productive enterprise and peace building efforts is undermined affecting sustainable peace within the region.  

Consequently, the Region’s women through a Charter of Demand are seeking rightfully, the recognition of their unique influences and particularly their unappreciated and uncompensated contributions to the development of communities through peace-building efforts. Niger Delta women themselves have reflected upon the issues that affect them, and see the Charter of Demands, as a set of petitions which they believe will begin to correct the imbalances and inequities they face in the region. It is believed that these demands will lessen the poor control that women have over their lives, their reproductive health and general wellbeing. The restricted access they have to education, decision making and mainstream politics are major limitations.

These issues are presented in the form of demands because women believe the time has come for their gentle persuasion to be turned into influencing by linking the status of women to the social, political and economic life of the region. NACGOND a network committed to Supports women in this region to advocate for their right to inclusion at all levels. More importantly, their action is informed by the awareness that genuine and sustainable peace can be built when women’s role in peace-building is recognized and duly acknowledged in all frameworks for peace and development in the region.

 Rev. Fr. Edward Obi, MSP, Ph.D

National Coordinator of NACGOND

17 Ndashi Street, D/Line

admin@nacgond.org  www.nacgond.org

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Gender and Development Action (GADA) is particularly privileged to bring together a crop of distinguished women and men who are passionate about women’s issues and believe that the region should become an embodiment of policies and programs aimed at addressing gender inequity and development.

For the longest time, women of the Region have had to deal with several factors that inhibit their full participation in the economic, social, and political life. But today, with the recession and a decline in the fiscal resources, the region needs to rethink its development trajectory. Consequently, this first Niger Delta Women Social Forum became the culmination of series of strategic meetings held by key stakeholders, women’s groups and civil society organizations across the Niger Delta.

The outcomes of the state level meetings of the Niger Delta women Movement States pointed to three broad areas of attention which participants felt were challenges to the development of the region. The areas are Peace and Security, Livelihoods and lastly, the Environment. The consequence of the meetings was a call for a social forum to raise the conversation and address the three areas of Demand.. The point of departure being, that the current approach to economic growth in the region is not leading us towards Peace, Security and Sustainable prosperity. The ND Women’s Social Forum being an open and candid space for discussion questioned many of the assumptions about themes such as Resource control, infrastructure deficit, good Governance, Accountability and Regional priorities. It also noted that ‘palliatives’ such as Amnesty and interventionist agencies have not resulted in the creation of Peace and Security, improved Livelihoods and Environmental Justice.

It is the hope of all that the forum has catalyzed a review of past strategies; strengthen recommendations of the current efforts at rebuilding the Region, generated very important and useful policy imperatives including  ongoing debates around the PIB, Ogoni Clean-up and other narratives. In addition, with the recently constituted NDDC Board, the huge allocation proposed in the 2017 budget for Amnesty there are many reasons for women to speak out against a “broken structure which is weak in terms of its delivery and unable to address systemic challenges that have hampered development and made the region unable to take new and bold initiatives which take women out of disadvantage.

Susan Bassey-Duke

Director Gender and Development Action

South-South Women’s Zonal Political Empowerment Office, C/O the Rivers State Ministry of Women Affairs, Eastern Bypass, Marine-Base, Port-Harcourt

info@gadanigeria-ph.org www.gadanigeria-ph.org

 

INTRODUCTION

The Niger Delta Women’s Movement (NDWM) was initiated to galvanize the collective efforts of women working to change their circumstances in the ND region. It serves as a broader voice for the better articulation of women rights issues and the development of a common agenda for action. It is also able to harvest partnerships and foster greater visibility that promotes equitable and sustainable development through a gender based and people centered approach. Through partnerships and networking, the NDWM is able to build and strengthen the capacity of women to engage and participate in policy dialogue thereby deepening efforts to initiate a proactive and responsive approach towards addressing women’s rights issues in the Niger Delta. It is expected that the credibility earned by this initiative will serve as a catalyst to promote progressive alliances, and ensure engagements to achieve visible transformation in the area of governance, accountability and quality service delivery.

Consequently, since its formation, NDWM has been engrossed in advocacy around issues such as good governance and accountability in the Niger Delta, peace, development and security of the Region. In all of these action, the promotion of gender mainstreaming and women’s participation in political and leadership roles have been treated as a cut crossing issue. Similarly, issues of policy have been prioritized. For despite the critical role women play in the region’s economy in food production, water, health, childcare, sanitation and environment, their concerns are still ignored and their voice marginalized as they do not contribute with their perspectives.  A classic example is their absence in discussion around the negative impact of the activities of extractive industries on the environment, the destruction of local economies, livelihoods, peace and security in the region. It is imperative that we view this call for action by the NDWM as a holistic, integrative and sustainable strategy aimed at promoting women’s inclusion and participation in issues bordering on peace and security, political and socio-economic development in the region.

It is against this backdrop that the initiative behind the Niger Delta Women Movement (NDWM) was conceptualized in November 2010 after series of meetings with women focused civil society organizations and the funding organization Cordaid Netherland. 

NDWM intervention strategy is based on collective actions led by women from all spheres of life who will occasionally come together  to provide greater visibility and projection of their voices  in addressing systemic problems and issues affecting them while promoting alternative visions and solutions.  The NDWM is building and strengthening the capacity of women to take positions, engage and participate in policy and political dialogue thereby deepening efforts to initiate a proactive responsive approach towards addressing women’s rights issues in the Niger Delta.

The Niger Delta Women’s Social Forum 2016

On the 1st of December 2016, GADA in partnership with NACGOND and with support from the Dutch Embassy, the First Niger Delta Women’s Social Forum was held in Port-Harcourt, with impressive representation of Ministries, Department and Agencies from within the 6 target states, Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa, Edo, Akwa Ibom and Cross River States.

As part of the preparation to host the 1st Niger Delta Women’s Social Forum, GADA paid courtesy visits to the Ministries of Women Affairs within the 6 Niger Delta target states, to ensure the Ministries of Women Affairs fully participate as the gender coordinating organ of each of the states. The involvement of the Ministries of Women Affairs was critical for the sustainability and the implementation of the Outcomes of the Niger Delta Women’s Social Forum.

All the state ministries of women affairs were ably represented, The Commissioner for Women Affairs, Community and Social Development for Delta state, Rev. Mrs. O. C Williams was present at the event as the Chairman of the occasion.  The Sustainable Development Goal offices of Delta and Cross Rivers States, The office of the First Female Deputy Governor of Rivers State was also present at the occasion, the only Female Paramount Ruler in Rivers state and her cabinet members were duly present, Civil society from the 6 states, Faith based organization from the Muslim and Christian faith, community representatives, women leaders, market women association and media organization amongst others.

This document contains the validated Niger Delta Women’s Charter of Demand which is an outcome of the Niger Delta Women’s Movement from 2010 to 2016.

 THE NIGER DELTA WOMEN’S CHARTER OF DEMAND

  1. The Niger delta region is the resource base of the nation .This however is not reflected in the lives of the people. The challenge many in development have is that after over five decades of agitations and demands for development the region’s progress is far behind expectation
  2. Current development patterns and paradigm have failed, which could be pointed to the models which are not skewed to the poor, inadequate implementation and mostly state led
  3. The Forum concludes that the development direction of the Region is flawed and a new paradigm of development is needed, one that recognizes the difference within the region but is also based on justice and equity. Such justice demands the inclusion of all sectors and segments of the society and the recognition that prosperity of the peoples of the Niger Delta has to be broad based. Tackling poverty, unabated and unplanned urbanization, population growth, migration from rural to urban, declining livelihood and food security, militancy and criminality

Women play huge roles in issues of peace and security in the region.  They are most affected by security issues in the Niger Delta namely loss  of lives, human rights abuses, loss of livelihood, loss of family  structure/values and Militarization of the Region.

WOMEN AND PEACE – NDWM DEMAND

  • Proactive measures in addressing women’s little presence in leadership and decision making roles in the Niger Delta, in line Niger with the SDG 5 gender equality and SDG 10 reducing inequality in the Niger Delta
  • Government and its agencies must show transparency and accountability in management of revenue from oil and gas
  • Minimize conflict by creating jobs, skills acquisition and training programme
  • Provide people centered sustainable infrastructure and development in the region
  • Eliminate gender discrimination, ensure equality and human dignity to all by implementing CEDAW and Protocol to the African Charter on Human & People’s Rights on the Rights of women in Africa
  • Carry out a post amnesty impact assessment on women and girls in the Niger delta
  • The States within the region should implement the National Action Plan on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR1325), the National Gender Policy and the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act 2015
  • 05% of the 13% derivation fund for oil and gas producing states within the Niger delta should be allocated to the Ministries of Women Affairs, under the auspices of the Women Peace Security Network/Working group for each Niger Delta State, for the implementation of the State Action Plans on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women peace and security
  • Develop a frame work for the implementation of GOAL 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals that work for Peace Justice and Strong Institutions

 WOMEN AND ENVIRONMENT – NDWM DEMAND

The Niger Delta is an oil-rich region which has been devastated by effects of oil and gas exploration and exploitation activities. The area has also witnessed gross human rights violations, occasioned by incessant violent conflicts, part of which is a quest for resource control.  Local indigenous people have seen little or no improvement in their standard of living while suffering serious damage to their natural environment.

  • Government should take more proactive steps to stop gas flares
  • The Petroleum Industry Governance Bill PIGB bill should amongst other issues, be reviewed to mainstream gender and include community participation and passed.
  • The 10% derivative for host communities should not be distributed by the Minister for Petroleum but should be allocated to duly constituted community development organs that are gender inclusive, for the development of host communities.
  • Slum upgrading (participatory urban renewal strategy with State Governments, Local Governments, Multinational oil companies, private sector, World Bank) should be carried out in all Oil and Gas host communities in the Niger Delta as pilot projects for the slum upgrading of all communities within the region
  • Issue of sanitation, dumping of toxic and domestic waste, should be addressed (environmental laws)
  • Deforestation should be addressed as it causes flooding and other environmental issues.
  • The Environmental Impact Assessment, should be reviewed to include Social and Gender Impact Assessment
  • Climate Actions should be mainstreamed into regional development agendas across states and within the Niger Delta Institutions as part of the implementation of Goal 13 of the SDGs
  • Implementation of the UNEP report.

 WOMEN AND LIVELIHOOD: DEMAND BY NDWM

Oil and gas activities in the Niger Delta have negatively affected the traditional livelihood of fishing and farming of the people

  • Education in the Niger Delta should be free and accessible for the girl child
  • Sexual Reproductive Health Rights programmes should carried out in communities and in schools to reduce the likelihood of young girls getting pregnant and also to provide special family planning services for women in need. Thus implementing part of the SDG goal 3 that works to ensure Good Health and Wellbeing for all?
  • Educational intervention programmes should be developed for teenage mothers to ensure they continue their education
  • More attention should be paid to the community grassroots mentoring in partnership with Women focused CSO.
  • Government should be transparent and accountable in its skills acquisition selections & beneficiary processes.
  • Create access to grants and loan for women involved in micro, small and medium sized enterprises.
  • Niger Delta states should allocate 1% out of the 13% derivation fund for oil producing states within the region, to develop a Niger Delta Women’s Trust Fund for Women Empowerment. This fund will be used for economic empowerment, enterprise development and political empowerment for Niger Delta Women
  • The state governments within the region and the Niger Delta Institutions should work towards drawing in international partnerships and scholarships for the educational development of young women in Science and Technology and the creative art
  • A frame work for the implementation of the SDG 4 Quality Education should be developed and implemented in the Niger delta.

CALL TO ACTION

Within the framework of the above issues and concerns, the Niger Delta Women’s Social Forum is calling on all development actors to reassess the failure of development in the Region and challenge the inadequacies of institutional and non-institutional arrangements that are aimed at refocusing development. The question this raises is whether the Niger Delta’s interest is being adequately served by institutions such as NDDC, Ministry of Niger Delta and Amnesty Programme. Why have they failed to transform the circumstances of the people of the region and what can be done to re-direct efforts and energies towards genuine development. Can addressing the specific demands of women around Livelihoods, Peace and Environmental justice serve as a catalyst for change? There is no doubt that a new development paradigm is needed and women want to be at the center calling on all to review and rethink their strategies with the hope that a new agenda is possible for the development of the ND

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *