Secure land rights for women and girls is linked to increased women's leadership and autonomy, enhanced economic opportunities, better security, safety, and standing in society.
This helps build thriving and resilient households and communities with improved incomes, better child nutrition, greater educational attainment for girls and more sustainable use of natural resources. Women-led organisations in ILC have been actively engaged in leadership training and mentoring, cross-regional exchanges, and have demonstrated time and again their capacity to set the regional and global agenda. For instance, working alongside IGAD member states ( Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda) to approve a 10 year agenda for women's land rights in July 2021.Notable successes include drives to recognise wives alongside their husbands on land registrations, increased awareness of women's land rights and new reporting methodologies to measure progress in women’s rights.
This triennium, ILC also joined the Stand For Her Land (S4HL) Campaign Steering Committee, joining Landesa to mobilise financial resources to carry out the campaign in Bangladesh, Colombia, Senegal and Uganda.
- In Nicaragua, members of the Mujer Rural Initiative helped secure an exemption on local municipal land taxes on land purchases made by women
- In Peru, members of the National Engagement Strategy promoted a law change to ensure that at least 30% of community board members are women
- Collective Women’s Land Rights Commitment widely endorsed during the Beijing+25 Conference
- Leadership training, mentoring and solidarity network for 41 women within the coalition
Speaking up in Peru
"In the future, I believe that the 30% gender quota currently established in the law can lead to full equality prompting the new generations to be more involved in the political life of their people. I think that the future is not distant, but rather near if the law is promoted, disseminated and it becomes a tool to change community statutes."
-Tania Pariona, former congresswoman of the Republic of Peru
Click here to meet Maribel and hear more about her story - and the other Quechua women who have benefited from the NES intervention.
In 2019, the NES Peru promoted the amendment of article 19 of the General Law of Peasant Communities to ensure that at least 30% of community board members are women. As a result, hundreds of Quechua rural women from Ayacucho, like Maribel, have been recognised as qualified comuneras in their communities, overcoming the prejudice and machismo culture which has traditionally sidelined women’s voices in land issues.
“Women are no longer going to be like in the past, women are going to be equal to men or perhaps even more so.”
- Maribel Barrientos Najarro, Community Treasurer, Santa Rosa de Huancapuquio
FOR THE FULL PICTURE on how ILC members and partners are contributing to change in Peru, click here.
TRANSFORMATIVE LEADERSHIP FOR WOMEN’S LAND RIGHTS: A LEARNING JOURNEY
ILC grows as a learning network and it’s important to understand how trainings are perceived and what they contribute to change in the life of participants and their organisations. This double interview introduces the experience of Motlanalo Emily Lebepe (Mo), from NKUZI – South Africa, and Nasieku Kisambu, from WE EFFECT - Tanzania. They both attended the Transformative Leadership for Women’s Land Rights (TLWLR) workshop held in Nairobi City from the 9th to 12th of December 2019.
My husbands land
But things are slowly changing and in 2020, ILC's National Engagement Strategy (NES) in Cameroon developed a Code of Conduct to improve equitable customary land management and support women in their fight for land rights.
The code has already been distributed to over 50 traditional authorities, reaching more than 300 community members.
FOR THE FULL PICTURE on how ILC members and partners are contributing to change in Cameroon, click here.
Colombia: light in the shadows
Emerging from decades of conflict, Colombia faces many of the land challenges of its neighbours, especially land inequality which is the highest in the continent caused by an increase in latifundio (large-scale land ownership). Particularly affected are rural and indigenous women.
In 2019, ILC members CINEP and CDS together with women’s organisations, under the umbrella of the Mujer Rural initiative, used their platform to present a report on the situation of rural and peasant women’s rights, including land rights.
They compiled an alternative report to the Colombian state’s own assessment of progress presented to the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Where the official document lacked the inputs necessary to capture the experience of many, especially rural and peasant women, ILC’s report highlighted the continued socio-economic decline experienced by these women, owing to the state’s failure to implement laws protecting women’s land rights.
The ILC has reported back on how they did it, as part of its extensive library of resources on good practices. This is just one of the many ways the organisation promotes exchange of ideas, and inspiration across countries and continents.
Freedom, land and a home to call her own
Rural women could rule the world
In all countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, women own and manage less land than men. Only 30% of them own any agricultural land, despite the crucial role that women play in agriculture, food sovereignty and the preservation of biodiversity.
An initiative by ILC members, Mujer Rural y Derecho a la Tierra (Rural Women and Land Rights) covers 13 countries across the continent and has influenced policies and practices in Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Peru, strengthening the decision-making powers of rural women on land governance. In Nicaragua, members contributed to securing an exemption on local municipal land taxes on land purchases made by women.
Upholding Gender Justice and Women’s Leadership
In addition to promoting women’s land rights in communities and global policy spaces, ILC is also a network made up of many women. Promoting gender justice and facilitating exchanges among women within the Coalition remained a priority, especially in light of the COVID-19 crisis. WOMEN FOR WOMEN (W4W), ILC’s mentoring and solidarity network which includes 41 women from 27 member organisations, continued to enable exchanges and reciprocal support. Participants judged it “inspirational for women’s careers”; “a safe space where both mentors and mentees can reciprocally learn”; and “an opportunity for learning from the passion, the experience and the diverse realities of women involved”.
"When it came to changing and influencing local policy, I didn’t know if I could do it. Luckily, I was not alone. I could always turn to women from other organisations – some ILC members. We work together, share information and consult with one another.” Winny Chepkemoi, Women’s Land Rights Officer, Kenya Land Alliance
Collective Women’s Land Rights Commitment to the Generation Equality Forum in Paris
In June 2021, ILC members including Landesa, GLTN/UNHabitat, Oxfam, Huairou Commission, Nkuzi Development association and the Global Feminist Land Platform facilitated drafting of of the Collective Women’s Land Rights Commitment that has been endorsed widely by global UN agencies, grassroots groups, the private sector and CSOs. This marks the start of a five-year process to achieve immediate and irreversible progress on gender equality and human rights for women and girls.
“As actors committed to achieving the SDGs and keen not to leave anyone behind, we will work together to secure land, housing, property (HLP), biodiversity and natural resource tenure rights and participatory land governance for 100 million rural, urban, grassroots , indigenous women and youth; and together, will partner to collectively advocate for recognition of these rights as a foundational condition for achieving gender equality, economic justice, adequate housing, climate action, land degradation neutrality, peace and stability. We are committed to empowering rural, urban, grassroots, indigenous, women-led and community-based organisations living in poverty, and with land, housing and property insecurity; we recognise this requires us to share power and resources ourselves, as we ask others to do the same. We are committed to mobilise, partner and build synergies with other stakeholders towards development of the implementation plan and delivery of this commitment.”read
ILC women are making the difference
As a coalition with an international platform, we shine a spotlight on the women who work so tirelessly for their land and communities, to spread their powerful message. Here we profile some of the inspirational women who have partnered with ILC over the last three years.
Felia Sikubweza, NES Malawi
“Once I left my husband, my brothers were reluctant to give me a portion of the family land as my culture dictates that a woman relinquishes all rights to land in her parental home once married. I had no other choice but to be brave and seek assistance from local leaders and chiefs in negotiating for a piece of land from my family. I wouldn’t have had this courage unless I knew my rights”.
Felia is a farmer with a young family, who was trapped in an abusive marriage. Support from the Coalition of Women Farmers in Malawi (COWFA) gave her the courage to leave her situation.
Today, Felia is an active member of NES Malawi and is often called into traditional courts and district dispute resolution meetings to consult on land cases because of the vast knowledge she has acquired. Chiefs even engage her and the other participants to advocate for other women during dispute resolution cases on land if they feel that the victims cannot represent themselves.
For the full contribution analysis of ILC’s work in Malawi, click here.
Yahayra Herrera, Yorling López and Belkis Gonzáles, Nicaragua
“There are things that I did not know which the workshops have taught me. It has helped our family, because what I learn I share with my husband, and between the two of us we have put it into practice in our yard and on the plot we bought." - Belkis González
In the El Jícaro region of Nicaragua, many women have gained access to land thanks to a women-led land cooperative supported by NES Nicaragua and ILC member Trócaire. The cooperative offers credit to its members and prioritises investment in women to enable them to buy land, training them to be successful producers.
Yahayra Vásquez Herrera owns three-quarters of a block that she acquired through the cooperative in October 2018. “Now I feel happy. I feel calm because I have my land, knowing that it is mine. The other women say that now we are recognised, they invite us to meetings, we are taken into account in the community,” she says.
Yorling Velázquez López has seen her living conditions improve and now aims to acquire more land in the future. “My idea is to pay and get other credits to buy more land. I am investing in apples, corn, beans and coffee, in order to have more products to sell,” she says.
Aigul Aydarbekova, NES Kyrgyzstan
"If you treat your land as a mother with respect, then good will come from this land" - Aigul Aidarbekova, woman pastoralist
Aigul Aidarbekova is a wife, mother, and herder living in the village of Cholpon, in Naryn, Kyrgyzstan. As a person juggling a lot of roles, Aigul starts her day at 5 a.m. to cook, bring out the cattle for grazing, and milk their cows and mares. In the view of nomads in Kyrgyzstan, the women are the custodians of the land.
Meet Aigul as she tells us about nomadic women in Kyrgyzstan and their role in restoring their land.
Winny Chepkemoi, Kenya Land Alliance
Winny is a young female activist working with ILC Member, the Kenya Land Alliance. In her advocacy work, she faces the dual obstacle of overcoming preconceptions based on her age and gender.
"In 2019, we were training a council of elders on why they should embrace women’s land rights. I remember when we stepped into the meeting, they addressed my boss. I felt like I was not significant in the room. ‘Maybe her role is to get tea: to make us comfortable’. They were shocked when they heard that I was taking up the meeting. They said: she is not married; how can she talk about land rights?”
ILC members are doing amazing work
HERE ARE SOME GOOD PRACTICES FROM THE LAST THREE YEARS
Women’s land rights as a pathway to economic justice
3 March 2021Read More
Securing women's land rights in customary areas in Uganda
20 January 2021Read More