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Wife Inheritance and the Rights of Women to Access, Use, Control and Manage Natural Resources

Upon the death of her husband, the predictable ‘Opo’ (wife inheritance) tradition practiced in some communities in Southwestern Nigeria took centre stage. The deceased man’s younger brother was given possession over all he had. That included Iya-Bose! Without being given any say she, her dead husband’s taxi cab, farmland, house, etc; were passed on to his younger brother.

This woman gave in to a discriminatory traditional practice because it was the only way she and her children could still partake of the inheritance she was denied. She had to become owned so she and her children could have access to her late husband’s assets.

Imagine that she would continue working on a farmland and living in a house she had no hope of ever owning for as long as the traditions that upturned her inheritance rights subsisted. Iya Bose was just another helpless victim of oppression, enslavement and denied rights and dignity; under the guise of customary practices.

She tilled and worked the land but was unjustly denied the right to own it
Logs taken from felled trees were not her portion but the wood shavings
She fetched all the water but there was barely any left to satisfy her own needs
How could anyone forget the trickling tears that dulled her face as she choked from the cooking fire’s smoke?
Now she‘s pressed and must wait for nightfall to relieve herself
Weary and helpless, she begins to crumble under the weight of it all
Her heart cried for change which was hard to pin down
Then came the wise-green-guide who said to her:
“Rise Up! Claim your rights over all that nature bestowed humanity”
She regarded the call!
Now she is wise and green.

Nigerian grassroots women are mostly peasants. Generally, they constitute the greatest percentage of the poor in the country and depend almost completely on the natural environment for survival. Natural resources such as air, timber, land, water, mineral resources are almost the last resort for the Nigerian woman. Sadly, these women are disadvantaged by statutory and customary rules that fail to improve and secure their rights to these resources.

The foregoing anecdote and poem captures the diversity, complexity and harsh realities of Nigerian grassroots women’s experiences in accessing and controlling natural resources; as well as earning dignity and respect. My learning experiences which revealed that environmental challenges have the harshest impacts on the lives were motivational for me in the founding of Women Imitative for Sustainable Environment (WISE) in 2009.

WISE is an action oriented response towards changing the status quo by enhancing the right and role of women in natural resource access, use, control, and stewardship. The organization clamors for and supports the active participation of women in environmental matters as a means to empowerment and sustainable development.

Women can no longer be spectators and must have a say in the use and distribution of natural resources. I know too well that achieving secured rights to natural resources will better the lives of women.

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Comments

Sharontina's picture

Women!

Women can no longer be spectators.And i bellieve they no longer are. Enough of their toil and sweatshed days without anything in return to feed their children or claim their rights. You are their voice now dear sister. and you are speaking out for them. The hope arises that they will see the horizon one day.

Thanks for sharing dear.

Blessings and Love

Merlin Sharontina

Greengirl's picture

Thanks Sharontina

Your feed backs are always very strengthening for me and my work. Thank you for granting me your listening hears and words of support. We are all in this together.

Much love and appreciation,

Greengirl

Mukut's picture

Stories of Nigeria

Olanike! My Green Girl,

You continue to be a front runner to fight for women's rights of Nigeria. I look forward to reading your posts every time.

You are such an inspiration.

Love,

Mukut Ray

Greengirl's picture

You inspire me too!

Mukut, I am encouraged that you find my posts worth reading. Please be assured that I always find yours inspiring too. Your comments mean a lot to mean and makes me want to do more. It would be a dream come true for me to see more women joining the race towards environmental sustainability. That in itself is empowering because when we have a safe and just environment, we can all thrive.

Let's keep running dear Sister, because the race can be won!

Hugs, love and best wishes!

Olanike

Veronique_S's picture

Beacon of Hope

I have heard of such existence of this issue that you spoke about, but you brought much clarity on the matter.
What a sad reality!! Every human being on earth should be given the right to choose, and this is denied by traditional. I am glad you ahve highlighted it and I trust that your dream for change becomes a reality.

Continue to be a beacon of light in your endeavor for change.

~ Candace _ Veronique

Greengirl's picture

You warmed my heart

Veronique, your comment wowed me and I am so glad that you found the post worth reading. I am also very elated by your comment that I brought much clarity on the matter. Thank you so much for your support. I press on in hope too that our collective voices and actions will bring about the much desired change.

Your support counts!

Greengirl

Pushpa Achanta's picture

Insightful piece

Dear friend,

Thanks for this story. Hope to hear more about you through future articles.

Warmth,
Pushpa

Greengirl's picture

Many thanks to you, Pushpa

I am glad you found the story, and cannot but thank you many times over for reaching out. It also gladdens my heart that you're interested in learning more about me through my writings. That is really empowering for me!

Warmly,

Greengirl

npirnie's picture

Beautiful article

This is such an incredible story that you've shared. Thank you for that. You write in such a way that draws the reader in and leaves me wanting more. It's always wonderful to have it personalized, tying the issue to an individuals story. I will look forward to next week article and all that you have to share.

All the best,

Noelle

Greengirl's picture

You just wowed me!

Your comment is beautiful and you just made my day. I appreciate that you could identify with and also relate with the human angle and face of the post. Thank you so much for boosting my confidence to keep writing. issues you raised about wanting more makes me feel confident. Guess what? I will have you in mind as I work on my next article.

Love,

Greengirl

Greengirl's picture

You just wowed me!

Your comment is beautiful and you just made my day. I appreciate that you could identify with and also relate with the human angle and face of the post. Thank you so much for boosting my confidence to keep writing. issues you raised about wanting more makes me feel confident. Guess what? I will have you in mind as I work on my next article.

Love,

Greengirl

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