By: Bamidele Fashube
WOMEN group in the Niger Delta region has demanded need for State Governments in the respective member states to take as priority environmental protection and climate change mitigation for survival of the locals.
The group, under the aegis of KebetKache Women Development and Resource Centre said women are mostly affected by environmental pollution in the region, especially when their sources of livelihoods are destroyed due to poor environmental management.
In a communique issued after the Women’s Day Action for Environmental Justice, the group emphasised that losses and damages suffered as a result of oil operations in the Niger Delta region should be compensated.
The initiative was conceived for women to reflect on their experiences, expectations, concerns and challenges posed by oil extraction activities in the Niger Delta.
Participants were drawn from the Civil Society Groups, Academics, Religion leaders, government officials and other major stakeholders from Edo, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Imo, Abia, Rivers and Cross River States.
The forum equally noted that the demand for environmental justice is a demand for fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all peoples regardless of cultural differences, sex, colour, origin, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.
Environmental justice, based on submissions of the women organisation, demands that public policy be based on mutual respect and justice for all peoples, free from any form of discrimination or bias.
“Climate change is impacting on the Niger Delta region, and is leading to drastic changes in the natural balance of the environment…,” the communique stated.
They also argued that government has not done enough to address environmental challenges facing the Niger Delta region.
Aside, the implementation of environmental laws and regulations, they said are not properly monitored by the government and regulatory agencies, leaving oil companies to continually act recklessly in their operations
They further stressed how oil companies allegedly continued to pollute the Niger Delta environment, leading to the destruction of the ecosystem and loss of livelihoods, which women largely depend on for survival.
“The lack of women inclusion in environmental decision making and agreements signed between communities, governments and oil companies, have reduced women to subservient roles in the affairs of the region.”
However, the NGO recommends women active involvement in demanding accountability and justice in the Niger Delta region.
They challenged the government and corporations to integrate women into policies and decision making on environment and development in the region.
The group also called for speedy actions against all cases of human rights violations against women and girls in the Niger Delta region.
They equally stated that the lockdown caused by the covid-19 pandemic compounded the environmental challenges of the Niger Delta, thereby gravely impacting the lives and survival of women.
The meeting featured goodwill messages from CSO leaders, representatives of Government Agencies and Institutions, community women leaders and groups, women-led organisations.
It also featured the presentation of keynote speeches, interactive sessions, community voice and experience sharing sessions, and a knowledge sharing session on networking and partnership building.
The group, however, called for speedy actions against all cases of human rights violations against women and girls in the Niger Delta region.
Signatories to the communique, according to Kebetkache are, “Kiipkoye Mark- Abua Development Foundation, Lezinu Patrick- Eedee Ladies Kpite Town; Victoria Enekere- Providence Women Voices of Nigeria; Princess Umoh- DERSI, Pastor Glory A. Thomas- Ala-uchi Women Development and Esther Okon-Ibuchim of Women Voices Alliance International.
Others are Cynthia Buluebiere Bright, GWEDO Agbor Uzezi- Community Peace Development, Blossom Lesi Youngman- Community Peace Development Initiative, Amadi Faith, N- Women for Environmental Justice; Dr. Patience Osarojiji- Mbaokase Initiative Alode/Coalition of Ogoni Women, Pius Dukor- Pius Dukor Foundation and Benson Esther- Otabigi Women Development Organisation.