On March 8th, 2010, women celebrated the one hundredth International Women’s Day. The Secretariat of the International Land Coalition honours women who, across time and countries, have struggled and are struggling for their rights to dignity, equality and participation. This year marks also the 15th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, which is currently under review. This makes 2010 a special moment for advancing the women’s rights agenda at all levels and moving faster towards the Millennium Development Goal 3.
The ILC Secretariat pays a special tribute to women’s courage and dynamism within the ILC’s constituency and to those women and men who are working to improve women’s rights to land and draw attention to the severe hurdles women still face to empowerment.
Drawing from the experience of ILC, we know that the percentage of land owned by women is still disproportionately small compared to men, particularly in light of their crucial contribution to agriculture and food security. We also know that women often access land through male relatives only, and not in their own right. This is because women’s key role in ensuring food security and sustainable natural resource management is not sufficiently recognised and because women are typically in disadvantageous positions in power structures in many societies.
It is thus extremely important to address the specific hurdles faced by women, politically and legally as well as economically, and allow them to participate in society on an equal footing. Women are the primary agents to change their lives, but need support to build their societal status and transform gender roles.
ILC members across the world have celebrated International Women’s Day in 2010. We would like to highlight three stories from our members: from Nepal, Bolivia, and Uganda:
- CSRC (Nepal): A ten days Women’s March: On the occasion of International Women’s Day, a Women’s March (Mahila Yatra) for women’s land rights has started in Nepal, from three different places in the country: Mahendranagar-Kanchanpur, Kohalpur-Banke, Tulsipur-Dang. The women’s march is expected to mobilize more than 50,000 and will culminate on 18th March 2010 at Tikapur. Women are marching to ensure women’s land rights in the coming constitution, sensitize women on this issue, and campaign on joint ownership of land by men and women.
- Fundación Tierra (Bolivia): In Bolivia, gender inequality is clearly reflected in the lack of women’s access to and control over resources (including land), economic opportunities, and participation in decision processes related to land. Fundación Tierra has recently become the ILC Gender Regional Coordinator for Latin America, taking the challenge and the opportunity to improve our knowledge on this issue and contribute to a more equitable and inclusive rural development. In March, in conjunction with the International Women’s Day, Fundación Tierra has published a specific Bulletin on Gender and Land (Género y Tierra).
- Uganda Land Alliance (ULA): On the occasion of International Women’s Day, ULA has issued the following statement: “As the entire world celebrates the International Women’s Day, the Uganda Land Alliance (ULA) wishes to express deep concern over continued violation of women’s rights, particularly the right to own land. This happens despite international legal provisions stipulating absolute equality of the human fold irrespective of sex. Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for example states in part that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights…”, but in Uganda today, this provision seems to have been blatantly ignored