One giant step forward for women’s land rights: The African Union officially endorses Pan African Women’s Charter on Land Rights
‘Our land, our lives, women let us mobilize!’ The famous chant of the Women2Kilimanjaro hike which led to the mass assembly of rural women from across Africa to adopt a charter of demands that advocates for more inclusive land rights for women.
There was singing and dancing, but most of all there was tenacity and utter determination to ensure their voices were heard. As it turns out, their climb was not in vain when the 9th Annual African Union Gender Pre-Summit held in Addis Abba officially endorsed the charter of demands initiated from the mass assembly of rural women. The charter, which includes 15 specific demands addresses women’s access to use, control, own, inherit and dispose of their land and natural resources” with the ultimate aim to help empower women across the continent.
Kafui Adjamagbo-Johnson, the Director of Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) – also a member of the ILC - was present during the Pre-Summit. She describes the endorsement as the “legal recognition [rural women] have been waiting for” to help promote the cause for equal land rights for women and “enhance WiLDAF’s advocacy activities in West Africa.”
“The fact that the African Union (AU) is informed and now acknowledges the position of rural women, we can now expect them to give more attention to the issues,” says the Director. “It sets in place strategies and mechanisms to fulfil equal land rights for women and respond to various discriminations and violations faced by women in their family and community.”
What does this mean for the future of women's land rights in Africa? Although there is no binding element to political action for Governments of the AU, the historic endorsement is a step in the right direction to help organisations like WiLDAF to continue in their mobilisation efforts. The recognition alone adds "legitimacy to our work" says Kafui, making their case stronger in fighting for equal land rights for rural women. WiLDAF has already commenced strategic plans in the countries they work, on how to improve women's land rights policies, which include capacity building and an increase in outreach activities with local and national governments in Africa.
 Women to Kilimanjaro . (2016, October). Charter of Demands: Actualizing Women's Land Rights in Africa [Press release]. Retrieved from http://us-cdn.creamermedia.co.za/assets/articles/attachments/68327_engli...