On path to achieving women’s land rights

Wednesday, 7th March 2018

International Women's Day is an occasion to celebrate progress thanks to women coming together and fighting for their rights. Women's access to land is a crucial goal in the Global Agenda, and the ILC family is working closely together to ensure that equal land rights for women is achieved.

In many parts of the world women are denied equal rights to access, use, inherit, control, and own land. While the exact numbers - and the (ab)use of facts have been debated, the data available shows clearly that women control less land than men and that land is often insecure in addition to being poorer quality.

Given the evidence of the massive inequality gap, world leaders agreed that by 2030 women should have equal ownership and control over land in all countries as a critical step to achieving several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

A cross-cutting topic throughout ILC's commitments

ILC members work together in thematic initiatives around 10 commitments for people-centred land governance.

Currently, four thematic initiatives are funded and supported by ILC that directly relate to equal land rights for women, but many of ILCs 30 global and regional initiatives involve a gender component in their strategies.

For example, the initiative Advancing Indigenous Peoples' land rights recognition through evidenced based advocacy, which trains members involved on how to record the different types of knowledge held by indigenous women. Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, ILC member and leading organisation for this initiative, is working towards closing the gap in the way land use is recorded, since women hold important knowledge that is much different than that of men.

One of the objectives of the Global Rangelands Initiative is to "increase tenure security of local land and resource users", specifying that 50 percent of those benefiting should be women. Ken Otieno of RECONCILE - hyperlink to member profile or their webpage), ILC member and Africa coordinator of the initiative, says that "women play a key role in managing their community’s resources, but despite their importance in resource management and income generation, they are not always present in discussions regarding the use of community lands." The Africa Rangelands Initiative is doing its part in ensuring "gender equality is taken into account in all the activities that it supports including projects, meetings, and research" to help reach the global goal of secure rangeland rights for men and women.

In Latin America, the initiative Protección de Defensores de la Tierra y el Territorio focuses on the protection of land rights defenders who struggle to defend the rights of pesants, rural youth and the women in those groups. Among the 21 organisations participating in the initiative, three are specifically dedicated to improving the lives of indigenous and rural women. Blanca Julia Ajtum Mejía and Vicenta Jerónimo Jiménez are just two of many land rights defenders at CODECA, the lead organisation for this initiative, who have been prosecuted for defending and protecting community land. This initiative is doing its part to protect these women and many more in an increasingly deadly climate for land defenders.

Keeping women's land rights at the top of the SDG agenda

Governments committed to the SDGs recognise that ensuring women's equal rights to land is crucial to the achievement of many goals. A first step governments must take is to collect gender disaggregated data on the SDGs indicators 1.4.2 and 5.a.1 as well as the indicator 5.a.2. Each of these indicators have an internationally agreed and tested methodology that need to be implemented. This will require donors and international organisations, and ILC to come together and pressure governments to transparently collect the necessary statistics to track women's land rights indicators.