The theme of the International Women’s Day 2022 is “Break the Bias”, a perfect expression that illustrates the work of ILC Africa members in enhancing women’s land rights
Women in Africa contribute 70% of food production. They account for nearly half of all farm labour, and 80–90% of food processing, storage and transport, as well as hoeing and weeding. Despite this, access to and control over land and natural resources tend to be held by men or kinship groups controlled by men. Data from Ghana indicate that most agricultural parcels, 85%, are owned exclusively by men, 9.8% by women, and only 3.5% jointly.
Yet, ILC members in Africa have recorded impressive results in advancing women’s land rights across the continent.
As we prepare to mark International Women’s Day 2022, here are five ways ILC Africa members are breaking the bias by fighting for women’s land rights:
1. Increasing capacity and political will among state actors
Through National Land Coalitions, ILC members in Africa are working to increase capacity and political will of state actors to support and strengthen women’s land rights, leading to increased access to land services and justice for women.
In South Africa, Cameroon, Senegal, Togo, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Uganda, ILC members organized training workshops for media, traditional leaders, government officials and parliamentarians to help them better understand the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGT) and, in particular, how the legal framework draws attention to gender equality.
In three years, the minutious work of ILC members in DR Congo enriched the country’s new national land policy document with the concerns of marginalized groups, especially women. Indigenous women, in particular, had the chance to express their views and concerns to CONAREF and have their voice heard.
You may remember Justine’s story and how she fought to keep her land after her husband passed away. Her victory was the result of a series of trainings and workshops organised by ILC’s National Land Coalition of Cameroon to educate communities on equitable customary land management.
2. Putting women first with customary and communal land
When the Pastoral Women’s Council of Tanzania, an ILC member, discovered that women in their Maasai community are among those counted in more than 30 countries where women and girls do not have the same rights to own or inherit land as men and boys, they took matters into their own hands. By early 2022, they established 54 women rights fora and supported over 1000 Maasai women to own pieces of land.
In nearby Uganda, the Ugandan Community-Based Association for Women and Children Welfare (UCOBAC), adapts and implements pro-poor, fit-for-purpose and gender responsive land tools and approaches to secure tenure for women.
3. Tackling discriminatory social norms with gender-responsive programs
ILC Africa members have played an active role in the Kilimanjaro initiative which aims to create space for women to be able to participate in decision-making processes about land and natural resources. ILC Africa did the same at the Generation Equality Forum’s comeback – 25 years after the Beijing Conference – to reignite women and girls’ empowerment to counteract both existing and new challenges.
In Kenya and Tanzania, women’s participation increased 45% thanks to the Participatory Rangelands Management project.
In June 2021, an ILC member from Senegal, CICODEV, presented concrete, ambitious and transformative commitments to achieve immediate and irreversible progress towards women’s land rights at the Paris Forum, and got it endorsed and publicised.
Within ILC Africa, women representation in the governance structures of National Land Coalitions and Commitment-Based Initiatives rose to 46.6% from 32.3% between 2019 and 2021.
4. Increasing women’s legal literacy and agency
In Uganda, ILC member UCOBAC, in conjunction with partners, organised community land fora to educate communities on land laws, gender and women’s land rights.
In the DRC, ILC members have contributed to the participation of 5 rural women in the “Workshop for presentation of the program document of the elaboration of the provincial land policy” in March 2021. Women themselves carried messages from collectives of other women to urge the government not to forget women’s land rights.
One of the six good practices shortlisted globally for the 2022 ILC Award Competition is about women’s leadership fora helping to secure land titles for pastoralist women in Tanzania.
5. Strengthening women’s livelihoods and food security
In South Africa, Nkuzi, another ILC member, reported that the mining company Mokopane agreed to mediation process with the local communities that were displaced due to its mining operations. The mediation process, executed in February 2021, increased women’s revenues from 10% to 26% and raised compensation for loss of ploughing fields from 5, 250 to 65, 250 South African Rand (that is 344 to 4,275 United States Dollars) per family, per annum.
In Senegal, according to a LANDex report, the prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity was reduced from 22% in 2015 to 13% in 2016.
To further ways of building a world free of bias, ILC Africa and its partners are marking the March 8 International Women’s Day 2022 with a full-day event in Nairobi comprising a press briefing, discussions on securing women’s land rights, exhibitions, and the launch of Stand for Her Land campaign.
Photo credit: MFC for GROOTS Kenya