Emen Okon: Environmental destruction in the Niger Delta
Emem Okon is a community organizer/mobilizer and women’s rights activist from the Niger Delta, a hot spot in Nigeria. She has a passion for mobilizing women for action, for peace, and for their rights. She works in oil-impacted towns and villages, i.e. areas where oil companies are drilling in the Niger Delta. Two problems she and others are addressing are neglect of the region in terms of development and also the degradation of the environment by the oil companies. There are serious cases of oil spills and gas flaring — horribly toxic for the environment and the people.
Okon is leading a thriving Nigerian ecofeminist movement. She is the founder and Executive Director of Kebetkache Women Development & Resource Centre whose mission is to promote the rights of women and develop their leadership potentials, and to mobilize for the promotion of social justice. In an interview Emem granted a newsmedia in California she did not mince words in telling Chevron the truth as it is: “Chevron’s operations in the Niger Delta have economically marginalized local villagers while giving them virtually no control over their own livelihood, land or resources. The people and communities living nearest to the oil have become poorer and more dispirited, and are living shorter lives. I came to California to tell Chevron that it must listen to the women of the Niger Delta and change its operations”.
With voices such as Emem’s it is hoped that the exploitation of the Niger Delta will become a thing of the past soon.