Women in Cross River State, yesterday, protested against environmental injustice in Nigeria and canvassed the need for a framework of environmental justice to protect women in the country.
They carried placards with inscriptions such as Recognise Women’s Rights On Environmental Justice; Government Is Failing In Its Responsibility To Protect Lives And property; Give Us Our COVID-19 Palliatives, Protect Women On Land Allocation, and Take Urgent Step To Reform Police, among others.
They also demanded respect for the rights of vulnerable persons, an extension of COVID-19 activities to rural areas, and for the police to show that they were true friends of the people, saying women have not been given justice and fair treatment in environmental issues as it concerns them.
Protesting under the aegis of Wane-aedon Development Association (Waneledon) in Edondon Town, Obubra Council Area of the state, over 200 women and girls drawn from different communities gathered in Edondon for the rally.
They insisted that the time was ripe for the rights of women to be respected and urged government at all levels, civil society organisations, communities and the private sector to come up with an environmental justice framework, develop tools and strategies to eliminate unfair decisions against women.
Secretary-General of Waneledon, Joy Ogar, said: “Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all persons regardless of race, colour, nationality or income level, with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.
“Such framework should uncover the underlying assumptions that may contribute to and produce different exposures and unequal protection. It should expose the ethical and political questions of who gets what, when, why and how much.”
She, however, argued that environmental justice in Nigeria was ruined by the powerful, who arrogate citizens’ functions to themselves in the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies in utter disregard for meaningful involvement of all persons regardless of race, colour, nationality or income.
“If applied to the status quo, there is an unfair distribution of environmental benefits and hazards and that those who already suffer socio-economic, racial and cultural discrimination bear uneven environmental drawbacks.
“In a world in which we are increasingly aware of environmental challenges, the environmental justice framework provides another way of examining the issues and reminds us that our environmental decisions have significant impacts on people’s lives, which need to be factored into any process that aspires to be fair and just,” she stressed.
She explained that the environmental justice movement emerged due to the issues of fairness, social equity and environmental protection, adding: “The new movement embraces the principle that all communities are entitled to equal protection and enforcement of environmental, health, employment, housing, transportation, and civil rights laws and regulations that impact the quality of life.”