Source:savannanews24.com/Hamza Lansah Lolly:
The National Coordinator for Shea Network Ghana, Mr. Iddi Zakaria has called on traditional authorities to allow women to own parklands to improve their livelihoods.
Rural women are still having challenges on ownership of lands especially Shea parklands to improve their situation in the Shea business.
Though Shea is picked on the wilds however traditional authorities supervised and owns these lands where women have no access to Shea parklands.
At a ceremony to mark this year’s International Rural Women Day on the theme “If Shea trees matters- Women matters/ Shea Parkland Ownership is Women Right” in Jantong Dakpem-yili in the Salaga North District of the Northern Region, Mr. Iddi Zakaria said, men function as land owners, clan heard and chiefs and natural legitimizers with rights to ownership of the lands as well as the growing tree populations.
He said women have rights to collection of the nuts and fruits from their husband’s farms and from the bush but have no right to own a parcel of land with Shea trees, adding that widows and unmarried women cannot pick from lands owned by husbands of married women.
“Single women, minorities and migrant (Fulani) and non-natives poor women who do not belong to any clan, can only pick from the wild. Neither can they invest in parkland management and long term ownership”.
Shea Network Ghana (SNG) consider rural women as important drivers of development as they are agents of change fighting poverty, hunger and climate change and most importantly the pivot of sustaining Shea business and the parklands.
He said, the Shea tree is the main source of Shea kernels, incomes for rural women and a major component of the savannah ecosystem which has been traditionally managed.
Commenting on this year’s United Nations (UN) theme “Challenges and opportunities in climate-resilient agriculture for gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls”, to mark the day, the Shea Network Ghana Coordinator said the day will create a opportunity for global public discourse to influence favorable polies to mainstream reforms and highlight issues that are inextricably linked with rural women’s empowerment.
“With changing climate, women’s already unequal access to land, Shea trees are impacted. At the same time, existing gender inequalities and discriminations and systemic social exclusion of women, the poor, the landless and migrant groups constrain rural women’s decision-making power. Participation in their households and their communities, are exacerbated by climate change and climate disasters”.
The International rural women day celebration brought together over two hundred women across the three northern regions of Ghana mainly Shea nut pickers to deliberate on their livelihoods on the Shea business.
Before the launch, the women march within the Jantong Dakpema community holding placards which read “Give us our Shea trees”, Time to own Shea parklands”, “the poor are also stakeholders”.
The District Executive for East Gonja District, Hon Mohammed Tamimu in statement read on his behalf said, Shea picking is the only source of livelihood for the rural women in the Savannah Zone thus the need to help women improve upon their livelihood.
He said, men do not pick Shea but won lands on which the women pick the Sheanuts, “this implies that men will have to determine the availability of the shea trees thus determine how much women earn in the shea business”
Hon Tamimu said, the Shea industry faces a number of challenges which includes lack of land ownership, activities of Fulani herdsmen, charcoal burning, snake bites, bushfires, conflicts and lack stable guarantee prices, adding that all these challenges impact directly on the poor woman who leaves the house at dawn to pick the sheanut for process.
The Salaga DCE hinted that, the Assembly under a RING project to improve the shea industry, has procured and distributed wellington boots, metal basins and gloves to 194 women in seven communities to protect them from snake bites and also enhance their the quantity they could pick a year.
The Vice Chairperson of Shea Network Ghana Madam Lilian Mwintome Kuutiero launching the program called on traditional authorities to champion the course of women in their communities.
The Assembly member of the area, Hon Inusah Hamza Lansah urged the women to stop cutting shea trees for firewood.
Hon Lansah said, cutting down of shea trees is very rampant in the area even though there is a local law that prohibit the cutting of shea, “there is local court by the chief of this where people who cut down the shea tree are fine yet women continue cut it for firewood”.