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Centering Indigenous and Collective Land Rights Within International NGOs

Photo by Ivan Bandura on Unsplash

WLRI alumna Felicity Buckle developed a deeper understanding of different types of land rights that she uses to influence program development

In her professional capacity at the UK branch of DAI, Felicity Buckle focuses on environment, natural resource management, climate change, and land sectors. Over the past 7 years, she has focused on land tenure and property rights, which inspired an interest in gender and social inclusion. “I wanted to expand my knowledge of how women’s land tenure and property rights might be considered as we develop new programs,” Ms. Buckle recalled. “One of my core responsibilities is to help DAI bid on land-based projects within the resilience sector – and then deliver those projects that we win – and I wanted to ensure that I was incorporating best practices in terms of women’s land rights.”

Prior to attending WLRI’s Foundations 101 course, she had begun to consider a more gender-inclusive approach in her bid assessments and analyses. “Often, land tenure and property rights focus on an individual perspective,” Ms. Buckle noted. “So I didn’t have a broad understanding of how a situation such as collective or indigenous rights might be addressed – especially in a gender sensitive way.”

Ms. Buckle found that the discussions during the course that explored good indicators of success were incredibly valuable. “For example, understanding the difference between women attending or being present during conversations and actually participating in them was key,” she shared. “Also, thinking through which women are able to attend, whether or not they’re representative of the group in question, and how to gauge that has been particularly illuminating.”

Being part of a cohort of other land professionals from around the world gave Ms. Buckle the opportunity to challenge some of her assumptions. “This course enabled me to dig deeper and question some of the knowledge that I had in regard to women’s land tenure and resource rights,” Ms. Buckle explained. “Especially when it comes to understanding and identifying markers of success – what are those, and why do we think they’re important? How do we make sure that our work is beneficial for everyone in the community?”

Since completing Foundations 101, Ms. Buckle has incorporated her expanded knowledge into how DAI operates. “As part of the organization’s gender and social inclusion group, I produced guidance for other teams to use which details best practices around research, considerations, and approaches from a gender-inclusive perspective,” she said. “Some of the readings in the course provided me with ideas about specific issues that affect women – especially in the land sector – but these ideas are universal enough that we have been able to leverage them across the entire organization.”

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