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Nigeria: Strategic forum focuses on women and housing rights initiatives

14 January 2011 – Women’s rights NGOs and other stakeholders recently held an all-day strategic forum in Abuja, Nigeria that ended with an agreement to implement an action plan that aims to promote women’s access to land and housing as well as other property and inheritance rights. The hope is that such a plan will spur economic development and boost women’s poverty reduction efforts in Nigeria.

More than 15 delegates from women’s rights NGOs in Enugu, Port Harcourt, Lagos and Abuja, as well as representatives of government ministries, met in Abuja on 29 November for the forum organized by the COHRE, in collaboration with Women’s Aid Collective (WACOL), an Enugu-based women’s rights NGO.

The forum was dominated by talks about critical issues of women land and housing rights, inheritance rights, security of tenure, and existing legal and policy frameworks for promoting equality between men and women with respect to access to land and housing.

The recommendations made at the end of the forum plot measures to address the various areas of inconsistencies, gaps and challenges faced by women in Nigeria.

Presenters at the forum included COHRE’s long time facilitator Gozie Udemezue (Konz Consults), Ozioma Izuoru (FIDA-Nigeria), Ijeoma Namuchi (WACOL) and Barnabas Atiyaye (Envicons Team Consultants).

The presenters identified the key elements needed to fuel Nigeria’s women’s land and housing rights campaign and necessary conditions to help the country move forward with women’s housing rights initiatives.  These elements include: improved access to land, security of tenure for women, awareness-raising, women’s empowerment, legal reforms, mitigating forced evictions and the reform of regressive customary practices.

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Participants at strategic forum on women's rights, Abuja, Nigeria (November 2010 © COHRE)

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The strategic forum also assessed progress already made in Nigeria and opportunities available for COHRE and other national NGO’s to engage with the relevant stakeholders to bring about change for women’s housing rights in the coming years.