DB: You’ve been taking part in the course on women’s land rights offered by The Women’s Land Rights Institute. Why were you attracted to the course?
A lot of what I do with CIFOR centres around women and land rights across Africa, Asia and Latin America so I felt there was a need for me to understand concepts that were kind of ambiguous. I needed clarity on how to apply some of those concepts and frameworks which I didn’t really have a mastery of, especially the legal aspects. So when I came across the course I thought yeah, I need this course to deepen my knowledge, gain a better understanding, learn appropriate ways to explore some of those frameworks and tools around women and land rights.
DB: And so far, what have you discovered?
OEB: Well it’s been amazing. So actually, when I started the course one of the things that first caught my attention was how they approach theories and frameworks and I’ve learned a lot during this short period of time. One of the first things I learned was that there is a difference between a rights holder and a land holder. You know, those were terms that I thought were the same, but I was shocked when I got to know they are actually different terminologies. We also learned different concepts around collective land tenure systems, private land tenure systems, individual and collective systems, and how this applies across different contexts.
One of the things I have noted so far is they are quite unique, and how it’s applied in a particular context or region might not be the same. For instance, in Africa how you would see communal land tenure systems might not be the same as in Asia, for instance: in Bangladesh or Kyrgyzstan. So those are the kind of things I am exploring which I’m so happy and excited about.
DB: When it comes to your day to day work, how will the course help you?
Yeah so some of the challenges I had in my day to day work was making the distinction between legal frameworks, because I really don’t have a law background. So in order to really analyse and critique issues relating to gender and women you really need to understand them from that whole legal perspective, you know? You need to understand those legal analyses for you to make a good assessment of a land rights situation in a particular context.
So, I think those were the kind of challenges I had. But with this course I have been able to have a deeper understanding of legal analysis in different contexts when it comes to women and land rights.
DB: What’s your feeling about how the course has been structured, interactivity and so on?
EOB: Yeah I actually like how the course has been structured. We actually started with understanding what rights are all about: property rights, tenure, different systems. We later moved on to collective rights, moving from the individual to collective, and marital property rights. And truly, this is an aspect that I lacked understanding around, especially marital property rights and how it applies across different contexts and countries.
So for instance, the legal grounds for maybe a woman, a widow, a married woman, to claim marital rights could be different across countries. So we go along having these different experiences, drawing from different case studies around the globe, you know, really deepening our understanding of how countries apply some of these different policies and principles, and how it all impacts women.
So, it brings more of an intersectional approach, which is often what you will not find even literature. Like when literature addresses some of these issues they might want to focus on a particular angle, but with this course we have been able to touch from different angles using an intersectional lens, and I think that’s what really stands out for me.
DB: Would you recommend the course and why?
EOB: Definitely. I would really recommend this course for anyone who is into research with a focus on women, on land rights, on tenure systems, on tenure security, land tenure regime systems. Why would I do so? I would do so because the course really helps you understand the framings around women’s land rights. It helps you unpack the different concepts. It gives you clarity. I would recommend the course any day, any time, and yeah, I think it’s a game-changer for me, given how I now approach my work with CIFOR, how I analyse, how I critique, how I interpret legal framings, policies, documents, reports. So I think yes, it’s a course worth doing. I would recommend it any time, to anyone.