During the first week of June we held our very first Research Consortium Women’s Land Rights Grantee Workshop. Held in Geelong, in the state of Victoria in Australia, a representative from each grantee group, the submission reviewers, and representatives from Resource Equity met for three days to share, learn, and challenge each other on the draft research papers that have been produced under this grant. It was a rare opportunity to dive deeply into substantive questions of what works to improve land rights for women, and what kinds of research can help us answer those questions.
Although not every author was able to attend in person, we were fortunate enough to have several that called in to join our inaugural event. The grantee groups and authors are:
- The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) – Iliana Monterosso Ibarra and Anne M. Larson
- Associates Research Trust – Uganda (ARTU) – Herbert Kamusiime and Paul Ntegeka Mwesige
- Land Investment for Transformation Programme (LIFT)- Development Associates International (DAI) – Workhowa Mekonen, Gladys Savolainen, and John Leckie
The workshop centered on the authors presenting their preliminary findings in detail and then answering questions from the entire group. The interventions analyzed in the research papers were diverse:
- Systematic land rights certification and registration in Ethiopia;
- Forest land tenure reforms in Uganda, Peru, and Indonesia; and
- Customary land certificates in Uganda.
Each draft research report relies on existing data sets from a range of sources including NGOs, government, and project reports. Each of these reports provides a valuable piece in the puzzle of what works to achieve land tenure security for women.
And each report met with some interesting challenges that will no doubt help those faced with similar challenges in the future:
- How to narrow a research question when there is too much available data so that we can draw meaningful and specific learnings from it?
- How can we describe an intervention’s activities in a way that will allow us to understand what specifically about it made a difference for women?
- How can we accurately describe what data tells us and what it does not tell us about an intervention?
- What factors influence our ability to assert how we attribute results to actions taken?
But perhaps the most important piece of the workshop is that we had the time and the occasion to really dig deep and to critically explore our own work and our own assumptions and biases. The workshop presented us with the rare chance to scrutinize our methods and approaches to the work, and to see our own work through each other’s eyes.
At the Research Consortium one of the main objectives is to start to fill in some of the gaps in evidence so that policy-makers, programmers, donors, and practitioners can rely on evidence-backed information to make the most informed decisions possible. The hope is that this evidence will help make the case that secure land and resource rights for women are achievable and will help to show what strategies can work to achieve stronger land rights for women in practice. These grants and this workshop are some of the ways we hope to accomplish this objective.
In the months to come we will be publishing the completed reports and findings made by each of the grantee groups.