International Women’s Day always makes us (Resource Equity) a bit sad and a bit mad. One of these years we want to announce that the world has fixed one thing for women. Just one thing—no more violence against women, no more childbirth deaths, no more abortion deaths, no more early marriage, no more sextortion, no more human trafficking, no more land grabbing, no more cow sheds for menstruating women, no more eating last, eating less, not eating, no more work without pay, no more 16 hour days—you get the idea. We would like to start by really solving one issue that women around the world face.
We work on women’s land rights, and we’ve been at this specific issue for a long time. Here’s a simple (but not short) timeline of the ongoing discussion of the issue:
1995 Beijing: “In most of today’s societies, there are great gender inequities in access to land, housing and basic infrastructure.”
2013 UN Women: “Across the world, many women tell a similar tale: they till the land, produce the food, yet lack secure rights to land, including being denied equal rights to inheritance.”
2020 : Sizani Ngubane, South African Human Rights Defender
“When you begin to give land to women, a lot of abuses in society are eliminated. They can feed their own families without fear of being evicted. They can inherit land when their male relatives die. And most importantly, they are not so controlled by the men in their lives. Because when land is the main value of a society and women cannot own land, we are nothing. We are not 100% human beings. It is easy to abuse and abandon us. So the land is the only way out for us.”
There is a good deal of talk about women’s rights to land. We know it’s important. And by “we” I mean the international development community writ large. This has not always been the case.
Now we need to do more than talk–all of us who know that women need to have rights to and control over land for the sake of themselves, their families, their communities, and food security, and environmental stewardship, and improved nutrition, and economic empowerment.
But, What Works? Actually, we are starting to figure that out. Little by little, piece by piece, study by study. Resource Equity has compiled a starting place of what we know to answer the question of “what works” for women’s land and property rights, and we included our thoughts on where the gaps are based on what we know we know and on our experience over the past 20+ years of practice. Take a look. Let us know what you think. Share the study. Pick a promising action. Support it. Research and develop these learnings. Tell us what you discover. Let’s fix one thing.