Igbo Culture Deprives Women’s Inheritance Rights, Gender Advocate Warns

By Adadareporters

Harmful Igbo cultural practices are responsible for the continued deprivation of Igbo women from inheriting their parents’ property like their male counterparts.

Ogechi Ikeh, a gender and development practitioner, told our reporter on Wednesday that many men do not want to realise that women are legal children of their parents.

Ike, who is also the Executive Director of Ogechi and Sam Ikeh Foundation (OSAIF), called for sensitization against such practices to give Igbo women a sense of belonging.

Quoting her, “The factor against women inheriting their fathers’ property in Igbo land is the Igbo culture. This culture is age-long. Despite the Supreme Court judgement in Ukeje vs Ukeje, this culture of denial has refused to disappear. People are still grappling with admitting its realities. Most men don’t recognize that judgement, and they don’t understand its implications.”

On the way forward, she said, “It is what many non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations are already doing. We need to increase the awareness. This implies going down to the community level and engaging the stakeholders at that level. We need to meet with the gate keepers of the tradition. Some of them have accepted this fact because once in a while, when we have projects, we sensitise them using also relevant laws. We try to tell them that these females are legal children with equal rights. Sometime, most parents do not have males. And even when they have, they may die before them. We urge them not to stick to their old ways.

“The awareness creation is a big task. It also involves sustaining it, which implies that it is not a one-off event. The Igwes and their cabinet members should be engaged most of the time. They should also be invited to forums where these issues are discussed to keep them abreast of these developments. This is gender-based violence, and there are laws against it. They protect women’s rights.”

She said her agency receives such cases regularly, adding that, “We don’t approach them in a hurry. We engage all the critical stakeholders, including the Ministry of Justice, representative lawyers, and front-liners of gender based violence. When parties don’t accept, we give them some break, and then go back again. Some people are finding it very difficult that women should inherit their fathers’ estates. It sounds strange to them. We tell them that women are human beings. We use strategic advocacy. We also use people that are very successful. In most cases, it is resolved amicably and everybody becomes satisfied.”

Adadainfo Adadareporters.com is an online newspaper reporting Nigerian news. Email: adadainfo1@gmail.com Phone: 08071790941

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