The commissioner for women Affairs Hon. Stella odey has frowned against gender disparity among timber dealers in Ikot Eno-Obong Timber market. Hon .Odey expressed dissatisfaction while addressing EXCO members of Ikot Eno-Obong Timber association during a meeting held at MOWA hall, ministry of Women Affairs complex. Odey stated that the level of non-involvement of female folk in the association, as well as non-inheritance of their husbands business after their death is unacceptable and must come to an end.
The women Affairs commissioner informed that the meeting was necessitated after receiving a surveillance report that there had been an age long tradition in timber business that resist females from registering as eligible members of the association thereby denying them of their right to ownership of the business.
Speaking further, the MOWA boss maintained that the 35 percent gender affirmation is a National Gender Policy formulated to promote 35 percent involvement of Women in all governance processes and other aspect of life. She encouraged the male timber dealers to give room for female timber dealers to grow and flourish in the business.
In the same vein, the chair person, International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Barr. Beatrice Awa, who expressed shock at the level of gender disparity revolved around the timber business said the issue is a fundamental problem that needs to be addressed immediately, she added”‘a tradition where a woman cannot inherit her husband’s business after the death of her husband regardless of her level of understanding of the business operations is very repugnant and cannot be condoned in the 21st century”
Also speaking,The Director Department of Citizens Rights Ministry of Justice Barr. (Mrs) Florence Agbiji pointed out that ignorance of the law is not an excuse. In her words, ” what have been displayed here is an action of ignorance, the inheritance law gives women the right to inherent property from their parents or husbands who are diseased, the woman has the right to take over that which formerly belonged to her husband”.
Advising the male timber dealers to give their female counterparts equal opportunity in the timber market, Barr. Agbiji further explained that section 45 of the constitution states the right for freedom against discrimination, she added that the non involvement of female timber dealers in the timber market is against the constitution and as such repugnant to natural justice.
Earlier, the president timber dealers Association, Ikot Eno-Obong branch Mr. Edet Emmanuel confirmed that women are only allowed to sell the timber but cannot register as sole owners of the busines. The Secretary of the association also agreed to the fact that a widow cannot take over her husband’s business except her male child or any other male member of her husband’s family.
The permanent Secretary ministry of Women Affairs Mr. Freedom Ejom in his remark, enlightened that the core mandate of the ministry of Women Affairs is to give a voice to women, Ejom appealed to the male timber dealers to give room for the women to have their fair share in the timber business.
The meeting came to a close with some resolutions which include:’issuance of official letters to all branches of timber dealers Association in the state as well as the amendment of the bye-laws of the association to accommodate female timber dealers. Those in attendance include: The Director women Affairs department Mrs Ifumi M Njar , Director child Development department Mrs Asi Archibong, Director Planning, Research and Statistics Mrs Thelma Yakubu, Director of Administration MOWA Mr. Sunday Ochichi among others.