Youth access to land, discussions on women’s land rights and inclusion dominate Day 2 of Africa Land Forum 2020
1. One area of exclusion is the rule of law
The first plea of the day came from Esther Obaikol’s statement: “Aspiration 6 of Agenda 2063 takes us to the question of equality and how it will drive change on the continent. The aspiration is that 1 in every 5 women must have secure rights to land, and access and control to productive resources. But there are parts of my region where only 1% of women have this access. The highest we have on the continent is 23%, and so we are far from the target on strengthening women’s rights to land.”
“One area of exclusion is the rule of law. It is incumbent on us as a continent – at country, civil society, intergovernmental organisations, RECs and the African Union levels – to ensure that the rule of law is established towards inclusion and diversity. It will drive change on the continent.”
2. Time to let in the youth?
The employment challenges youth in Africa face right now call for a diversity of approaches. Access to land can help create jobs.
Innocent Houedji told participants why: “In Africa, the youth make up 70% of the population, and constitute the largest private sector group in Agriculture. They are tech savvy, and can take tech into Agriculture. One way to make improvements in this area may be to move from the regional level integration to the national and local levels.”
It is observed that urbanization is increasingly becoming a challenge, with the rapid migration of youth settling in urban and peri-urban areas, in search of economic and educational opportunities. More access for youth in land and land governance would create opportunities in the agricultural sector. “Going back to the soil”, for the youth who are willing, might deliver on jobs.
3. What we are talking about on gender justice
Sabine Pallas did not mince her words: “When we are talking about gender justice, we are talking about the balance of power. It is important for all countries, and ILC’s approaches, initiatives and tools can assist countries in this regard.”
In an engaging presentation in a breakout session, thereafter, Mino Ramaroson outlined some of these tools: from data tools for training of trainers, mentoring cycles, exchanging and learning from each other to alternative reporting, advocacy and awareness raising; and from the Kilimanjaro Initiative to community approaches to engage groups at community levels, discuss with local authorities, deploy community mapping, use gender evaluation criteria, social tenure model, and much more.
4. Beijing Conference: 25 years on
In both the plenary and breakout sessions, Esther Muiru vowed that “women’s land rights will reduce Africa’s economic troubles by 50%.”
It has delivered economic justice: women with strong land rights and inheritance earn up to 3.8 times more income. It will also help fight climate change: large-scale climate mitigation interventions are more effective when women’s land rights are fully recognized.
“Securing women land rights could perhaps resolve over 50% of unequal gender power relations, economic injustice, gender based violence, etc. among rural, urban and indigenous communities living in poverty,” said Esther.
Adding to that, Fridah Githuku took the audience through the ILC Charter adding that reforming unwritten norms, difficult to change in most communities, must be part of the struggle. The ILC Charter, she said, is used to ensure that gender is mainstreamed, promoting the implementation of advanced policies.
5. Wetlands improve women’s livelihoods too
A study by Landesa in Liberia made a strong argument for wetlands as a resource for many women looking for means of protecting their livelihoods. 100% of all the people interviewed for the research said so. The speaker called for wetlands to be promoted—however, adding that users should be trained in a way that ensures sustainability and conserves the environment.
6. Any insight on the status of community land rights?
Sharing insights on ILC approaches from research conducted in Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon and Liberia, Dr Mwenda Makathimo struck an optimistic tone on most countries moving toward community land rights.
“Barriers remain: cultural resistance, government unwillingness to change, or slow registrations processes,” he said. However, public awareness, advocating for budget allocation to the cause, action research and capacity building can help achieve further progress in the area.
7. And GROOTS Kenya women took the floor
Mobilized together in a common room from where they were taking part at the Forum, a representative of GROOTS Kenya said toward the end:
“As rural women, we believe that regular data from surveys on the number of women impacted, on the experience of women transformed, can also advance women’s land rights.”