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By Oladosu Adenike (Email)

 Bring back our girls' rights in Nigeria | Plan International
Photo credit: Plan International 
On the night of 14th of April 2014, a group of militants attacked the Government Girl Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria and kidnapped 276 female students ranging from ages 15 to 19 years. This kidnapping was claimed by an armed group called Boko Haram. As an ecofeminist, I was “caught short of surprise” when the news broke out about the kidnapping of the school girls back in 2014. As at then, I was a 200 level student of Agricultural economics at a federal university, anguishing at their ordeals on daily basis; seeing that these girls represent the future of their various rural communities and nation at large. This also brought on international awareness of “Bring Back Our Girls”.
Causes of the conflict:
Prior to the outbreak of armed conflict in the North Eastern part of Nigeria and neighbouring West African Countries; is the shrinking Lake Chad region. This agreed with the facts stated by IPCC that:the degradation of natural resources as a result of both over-exploitation and climate change will contribute to increased conflicts over the distribution of these resources”. This Lake has served as a source of livelihood to more than 40 million people: Fishermen, herdsmen, farmers and so on. Also, the Lake Chad has been reduced by nine-tenth of its original sizes: lost 90% of its landmass due to the negative impact of temperate increase occasioned by climate change. Culturally, the Lake Chad has lived for a thousand years: serving communities and bringing about social harmony. With the loss of cultural values or traditional dictates associating with the worsening socio-economic impact of degradation of “water mass” leads to helpless youths to take-up arms against the state: leading to the peak of the crises in 2014. As cited by IPCC in 2014 global assessment report, “The prospect of water conflict surfaces is a guarded formation that climate change can potentially lead to conflict via competition of water resources”. As a result of the shrinking Lake Chad, it has destroyed rural communities due to the economic and cultural survival of its inhabitants. Climate change is a breeder of conflicts and in some cases, armed conflicts breeds environmental crises leading to climate change. The Lake Chad region is witnessing both cases occurring and concurrently in accordance to the 2007 IPCC reports that says; “Many of the factors that increase the risk of civil war and other armed conflicts are sensitive to climate change”. One of the factors is poverty

Why Environmental Rights are Women’s Rights:     
It is no longer news that environmental crises ranging from extreme weather condition like reduced rainfall and extreme temperature leads to crop failure; thereby leading to poverty. In Africa, especially Nigeria; poverty has a woman face. According to the UN chief at the high level meeting on gender equality at African Union Summit (2020), “The reality in Africa and the rest of the world is that poverty still has a woman face”. It is known that for every 100 men aged 25 to 34 lives in extreme poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa, there is 127 women. This is because women are closer to their environment than their male folks. Invariably, women first victim to every environmental crises as such susceptible to climate change crises.

Sexual Violence as a Reflection of Climate crises.   
          The environment where live matters, as such leads to their susceptibility to sexual violence such as rape. Hence, there is a direct proportionality between climate change crises and sexual violence (Such as rape and sex slavery). Climate change is direct violence against the environment. “Mankind” weaponises the environment through carbonization as it does “Woman-kind through sexual violence. Hence, man’s relationship with its women’s folk is psychological and phenomenal reaction to its environment. This gives the Truemeaning of climate change as violence against environment. The Boko Haram crises in the Lake Chad region highlights the negative impacts of environmental crises on women’s rights like health and education. Environmental crises such as Boko Haram, farmer-Herdsmen conflicts and the Niger-Delta conflicts have seen escalating incidences of kidnapping, rape and assault on women and girls; impeding then of access to education, health and wealth. This is why environmental rights are needed especially to women from global south in order to close the inequality gap.

Climate change represents one of the greatest problems of the 21st century; as it serves as a breeder of conflicts and poverty. Thus, “climate change is a threat to human security because it undermines livelihoods, compromises culture and identity, induces migration that people would rather have avoided, and challenge the ability of states to provide the conditions necessary for human security: But, since most climate change crises are environmental related, women & girls take the largest share of it arising consequences. And when there is an environmental crisis, natural resources such as forest, Lake, creeks serves as sources of hideout for bandit and armed terrorists. To solve climate crises is to solve challenges women and girls face to own wealth and health. In view of kidnap of the girls, let keep it mind that to solve sexual violence and gender inequality is equivalent to living in a peaceful world.     

Oladosu Adenike is a freelance Journalist, an ecofeminist and peace activist

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