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August 2021 Bulletin

In this bulletin, we’ll cover mining revenues and women’s involvement in deciding how they are used. We discuss whether it is necessary to mandate joint titling to protect joint ownership rights. You’ll also learn a bit more about the ongoing success of Resource Equity’s Women’s Land Rights Institute, and the customized courses we offer. And finally, we’re announcing a webinar showcasing new papers from researchers we supported in Laos, Sierra Leone, The Kyrgyz Republic, India, and Kenya on What Works for Women’s Land and Property Rights.

If you want to know more about what we’re up to, or if you have a question related to women’s land rights, you can always email us at helpdesk@resourceequity.org

  • Comment: Can women have input into how revenues from mining are shared with local communities?
  • Comment: Is mandatory joint titling of marital property necessary to protect women’s rights?
  • News: Webinar on “What Works For Women?” Presenting new evidence from five local researchers supported by Resource Equity.
  • News: Women’s Land Rights Institute is going strong!
  • News: Welcome Hirut Girma to the Resource Equity team.
  • Help Desk Inquiry: What is the state of the research on land grabbing in small island states and on the assessment and, on the impact on communities, specifically with regard to climate adaptation and mitigation? What are the findings?

Comment: Can women have input into how revenues from mining are shared with local communities?

Under the leadership of Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Resource Equity has been supporting research and advocacy linked to state revenues obtained from extractives industries and the extent to which these funds are benefiting women at the local level. PWYP is a global movement of civil society organisations in over 50 countries committed to making oil, gas, and mineral governance open, accountable, sustainable, equitable, and responsive to all people. Resource Equity supported PWYP national coalitions in Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda, researching the information and reforms that are needed to improve women’s participation and power in decision-making around the use of extractive revenues for the benefit of women, men, and local communities.

The findings showed that sub-national revenue allocation and use is not well accounted for, that local communities often lack input to how these revenues could be used within the communities, and that women’s participation in informing revenue use and in benefiting from local projects enabled by the funding is limited. The findings were driven by several factors common across the research countries. First, women’s social status restricts their participation in decision-making on the use of extractive revenues at the local level. Patriarchal customary/social rules and patterns in all three countries create a situation where women lack the permission to engage, time and capacity to be heard or otherwise participate in decision making, or access benefits at the local level. Second, formal governance frameworks fail to ensure women’s voice or participation. While national constitutions may provide for women’s equality, empowerment and rights, the remainder of national governance frameworks often fail to realise these constitutional guarantees. Third, government capacity and will to implement governance frameworks is lacking. Without the commitment and means to effect change, little changes. Finally, transparency and accountability are lacking. None of the three countries tracks extractive revenue distribution or spending at the local level. For local projects funded with other national resources, the rationale for selection and design of local community development projects funding is seldom made available. Plus, performance and beneficiary data for these projects is not routinely collected or shared with local women and men.

Next steps needed to drive improvement aren’t surprising. Governments, men, and women need to acknowledge and improve women’s social status by making social change a part of every action taken to advance women’s rights. Legal and regulatory frameworks need improvement, and national capacity and will to implement existing laws must be ramped up. Finally, transparency and accountability must be improved. Availability of accessible and digestible information is key to the active and empowering participation of women, men, and communities in shaping the uses of extractive revenues.

PWYP is now finalizing a synthesis report that will present conclusions and next steps to the key state, donor, and civil society stakeholders involved in making sure extractives revenues benefit local women – through projects shaped by the women themselves.

Comment: Is mandatory joint titling of marital property necessary to protect women’s rights?

The systematic titling and registration experience of Laos is often looked upon in the literature as a positive example for women, and a source of important lessons on gender and land administration. A provision in the 2003 Land Law in Laos PDR helped to create the space for those positive outcomes; it mandated joint titling of land that was held by a married couple. Most of the systematic titling and registration in Laos till now has been focused on urban and peri-urban areas and now the government has its sights on rural lands. In the lead up to rural land titling, a new Land Law has been adopted (2019). Interestingly, the mandatory joint titling provision has been omitted from the new Land Law – apparently based on the view that there are other sufficient protections for women’s land rights in other laws, and that the mandated joint titling was not necessary.  At the same time the Land Law states clearly that a land title is the only evidence of a right to land.

This is disappointing, especially given that land rights are customarily transferred along matrilineal lines in some of the ethnic (indigenous) groups in Laos. The question is whether that view, that women’s rights are sufficiently protected elsewhere, holds true in practice, and whether those protections are enough to also protect a woman’s property rights.

Looking at the matrilineal context in Laos, in our experience, despite their stated purpose, titling and registration programs do not always simply record rights as they exist on the ground or in law. Land titling and registration programs are often heavy on administrative and procedural rules to help make them work. And those rules can inadvertently disadvantage women, even if women have legally and customary rights to own land. Indeed, those rules can raise significant questions for gender equity. When it comes to whether women benefit from land titling and registration, having the right to land is one important step, but it is not the only one. Very often, women’s rights fall through procedural and administrative cracks that take on the contours of prevailing social and gender norms. For example, if evidence must be shown to prove a claim of a right to land, is that evidence equally available to women and men? If a claim of ownership must be asserted in a public forum, is that a forum that women and men have equal access to? Is there a social norm that places the male as the head of the household, even if the land of that household is held by the woman in the house, and are officials more likely to deal with the household head? Are women even aware of the implications to their future interests (compensation for loss, sharing in benefits, inheritance etc) that are represented in a land title?

Back to mandatory joint titling. We know it is not a panacea for ensuring gender equitable titling and registration programs, but we do know that if something is mandated it is more likely to be done, especially when obligations for administration are devolved to a more local level. And this is made all the more important if a land title is the only evidence of a right to land, and if land titles are used as the basis for compensation for loss of rights when land use is converted, such as with the large hydro-electric projects underway in Laos today.

What do you think? If you have direct experience in mandatory joint titling or a question related to that, feel free to drop us a line at helpdesk@resourceequity.org where our researchers will answer any questions you have.

You can read more about Laos in the new research by Resource Equity grantees here

News: Webinar on “What Works For Women?” presenting new evidence from five local researchers supported by Resource Equity.

What works for women? A panel sharing findings on the effectiveness of interventions to improve women’s land tenure security in Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Kyrgyzstan.

Resource Equity supports new research on the question of whether interventions are effective at improving women’s land tenure security. With this recent round of funding, we aimed to hear from local researchers and to learn more about the interventions and issues that matter to them. We wanted to both contribute to knowledge on gender-differentiated results of land tenure reform interventions and to understand the attributes of policies or programs that make them better or worse for women. Ultimately, we hoped to help to strengthen local capacity for research on gender and land rights and help local actors shape policy and practice in their country.

Despite delays caused by the global pandemic, we’re proud to host a webinar with three of the five research papers supported by Resource Equity. 

Panelists will be Betty Okero from CSO Network KenyaYannick Wild from Green Scenery Sierra Leone, and Gulzat Namatbekova from Kyrgyzstan. More information on panelists and links to their papers are available here. The panel will be moderated by Elisa Scalise, Resource Equity’s Executive Director (bio), and will be recorded and shared with those who register.

Date:   Wednesday 8th September 2021
Time:   Corresponding GMT/UTC 12:00:00 noon (60 minutes duration) Click here to find your time zone 
Register for the webinar here https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_R9cgOFMQRlCS6fuhev_b4A

News: Women’s Land Rights Institute is going strong. 

The Women’s Land Rights Institute of Resource Equity has been a great success. Our graduating class of 16 students represented women and men from local communities and indigenous groups, private sector actors, government, local and international NGOs, civil society organisations, researchers, and practitioners, from Sub-Saharan Africa, UK, France, the Middle East, and the Pacific. There are too few occasions to both step back and look at the big picture as well as to delve deeply into specifics, and the course tries to do both; we share evidence, practice, and personal experience of working on collectively held lands and natural resource governance, land titling and registration, climate change and other significant pressures on land, as well land rights and social change. The course is designed to be interactive, so that students can engage with course leaders as well as each other. 

You can hear more about past students and why they work on women’s land rights here. And you can read longer
interviews with students about their work and what the course meant to them here, and watch video testimonials here

In partnership with WRI we also ran a customized course for UZACHI, an indigenous organization working on community lands in Mexico. The course was held on zoom and simultaneously translated and was designed specifically to address questions around meaningful engagement of indigenous women in governance of community land.

If you think that your organization or your partners might be interested in a similar customized course, contact institute@resourceequity.org for more details.


News: Welcome Hirut Girma to the Resource Equity team.

We’re thrilled to announce that Hirut Girma is joining our team! Hirut is a senior gender and land tenure attorney with extensive international experience. In recent years, she helped strengthen the institutional and programmatic mechanisms for mainstreaming gender and empowering women/girls through a diverse range of measures, the most important of which is the development of the African Land Policy Centre (ALPC) Gender, Women and Land program. She also provided strategic leadership, technical guidance and operational support to the recently established Agriculture and Business Enabling Environment (ABEE) Women, Land and Agribusiness program of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). 

Hirut has years of experience providing analytical and implementation expertise on rural land tenure, women’s land rights, land rights formalization, land administration, land management, and land dispute resolution throughout Africa. Much of her work focuses on context-specific socio-policy and legal analysis to address structural as well as normative barriers to women’s rights to land and other resources. She has also worked on strategic interventions in Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, and Namibia.  Hirut will be based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 

Welcome to the team, Hirut! 

New Help Desk Inquiry 

Recently, this question made it to our librarians at the helpdesk.

What is the state of research on land grabbing in small islands states and, on the assessment, and impact on communities, specifically with regard to climate adaptation and mitigation? What are the findings?

Tourism-induced land grabbing occurs when governments and businesses obtain land otherwise used by men, women, and communities without adhering to good or best practices for land acquisition. To attract investment, governments may promote or facilitate the acquisition of land by businesses, or businesses that may later purchase or lease it from the government. Businesses may acquire the land directly through purchase or lease from individual or community owners, without following good practices. Land grabbing is a problem in SIDS (for investment in tourism, agriculture, and other uses), as it is around the world. Climate change is driving mitigation and adaptation measures and responses that are testing land rights and uses in SIDS and around the world. Behind all of these realities, best practices for land acquisition exist… see the full response here.

And if you have a question, feel free to send it along to info@resourceequity.org or by using the online form here.


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