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November 2020 Bulletin

Hello, and welcome to our nearly-end-of-year bulletin. We have a couple of exciting things to share, including updates on the research of our current grantees, and the launch of an innovative new initiative under the Resource Equity umbrella.

And as always, if you’ve any questions, queries or concerns, drop us a line: kurstinb@resourceequity.org.


The focus of our 2020 Fundraising campaign is our new initiative: The Institute for Women’s Land Rights.

Given the hardship and loss suffered by so many people over the past year, our work now feels more urgent than ever. Women and girls face unique challenges at the best of times, and there’s a growing body of evidence that COVID-19 is impacting them in very distinct and particular ways because of their already vulnerable situation.

Establishing the Institute – an online place of learning, skills-building, and sharing of expertise – is one way we are tackling that fact head-on.

We will offer a 10-week course to women and men from all over the world – many of them our partners – who are working to create positive change for women through securing their rights to land.

The Institute will empower participants working in on-the-ground-settings to craft solutions to the problems women face, based on their need and on local conditions. And backed up by the experience and knowledge of the Resource Equity team.

If you would like to donate, please go to our Go Fund Me page. Or if you prefer to pay via PayPal or credit card (no donation fees apply) please click here to go to the Donate page on our website.


At the start of the year we announced our grantees for 2020 – 2021.
We’re delighted to say that work’s been progressing in spite of the practical challenges presented by COVID19. As things progress, we thought you’d be interested in this reflection from one of our grantees on the relevance of their research.

In Western Kenya, Betty Okero with the CSO Network has been investigating how judicial and non-judicial rulings translate into positive outcomes relating to land tenure for women. It’s the first study of its kind, as Betty explains in her own words:

“What we want to show is the processes women have to go through [to access justice for land rights] – whether they’re using judicial or non-judicial processes – …[in] the context of …[a positive] legal land reform environment. And we want to show that it is not enough to just have laws… there are other underlying issues that have perhaps a more serious impact on the decisions that are made in regards to women and their rights to the enjoyment of land. And that the law needs to take cognizance of that so that we create processes for enforcement that make it easier for women.

… if you’re looking at the traditional aspect where women are using alternative dispute mechanisms to arbitrate their conflict, … there has got to be a recognition that culture does not recognize issues around titles. And [understanding] what that…  means when you want to deal with enjoyment (of rights), especially when you are talking about group rights.

So this research is sharing experiences of the path that women have followed as they have tried to arbitrate land conflicts. …. And then …[bringing] out some of the weaknesses that the land reform environment ignored.

Apart from the fact we are doing this [research], we are starting to use some of the information that we are … generat[ing] to influence some conversations around women and land.  For example…we have had a meeting with a Council of Elders specifically to be able to share some of the things that we want to see the Council of Elders change when it comes to settling issues around women and land.’

We’ll keep you updated on the progress of the research that we are supporting in the weeks and months to come. In case you need a reminder, here they are:

Gulzat Namatbekove is based in Kyrgyzstan. She’s been assessing the impacts of land rights reforms on household dynamics in households where the head of the household is a man.

Joseph Rahall, from Green Scenery, Sierra Leone
Joseph’s work will assess the effectiveness of a project to promote women’s customary land rights in improving women’s land tenure security in Sierra Leone.

Phothong Silliphone, SODA, Laos
Phothong and team will study the effects of a resettlement program in Laos on women’s land tenure security.

Guatam Prateek, Xavier University, Odisha, India
Guatam’s research will assess how joint-titling of land rights is affecting women’s wellbeing in the Slum Resettlement Project in Odisha, India.


October 11th 2020 was recognized globally as the International Day of the Girl. It gave us pause for thought – it always does – but this year in particular, as COVID-19 has affected so many women and girls in unique ways. Read here for what UNICEF say about women and girls and the COVID crisis.

Renee Giovarelli, our co-founder, wrote a blog post reflecting on girls and land rights from her experiences working in the field, and the reality of what it means to do this work and to settle for what’s often slow, incremental progress.


UN Women and UNHCHR have just published the second edition of their document Realizing Women’s Rights To Land and Other Productive Resources. Originally published in 2013, this updated version was revised by Elisa Scalise from Resource Equity and takes account of advances in thinking around women’s land rights as human rights and updates best practices on promoting and protecting women’s rights to land from around the world.


Our ground-breaking paper ‘What Works For Women – What We Know and What We Need to Know’ is now available in Spanish (Latin America). The French translation is coming soon. If you would like a copy you can access it here.


Resource Equity’s Board of Directors and its executive leadership are looking for two new members to help us achieve our mission of advancing women’s rights to land and natural resources around the world.

If you’re a regular reader of this bulletin you will know that Resource Equity is a boutique not-for-profit organization run by women. We are the world’s foremost experts on law and practice related to women’s land rights.

Our vision is to have a diverse board, united in its belief that women’s rights to land and resources are human rights, and that they are the foundation for sustained social and economic change.

So if that sounds like you, or someone you’d like to nominate, get in touch with us and we can share the Terms of Reference. Email kurstinb@resourceequity.org by December 31, 2020.


Here are some current projects we’re working on at Resource Equity.

Land Inequality and Gender – ILC
Based on her concept paper ‘Land Inequalities: Assessing and Measuring the Gender Gap’, Elisa Scalise will be part of an online discussion panel on December 1st entitled ‘How Land Inequality Manifests and Why It Is Essential to Address It.’

The event forms part of the International Land Coalition’s ‘Land Inequality Week’, which runs from November 24th through December 3rd. You can find the details here:

Land and Adequate Housing – Habitat for Humanity
Elisa will also be speaking in a webinar on December 9th hosted by Habitat for Humanity. The webinar will focus on the SDGs around urban housing, and in particular will uncover connections to the global agenda on land rights, gender equality, urbanization and climate change.

If you want to find out more, go here:

Gender Equity in Land and Forest Tenure in REDD+ Programming
For the World Bank, Resource Equity is leading a team of gender and land specialists that is focusing on understanding constraints and opportunities in legal, policy, and informal/customary land- and resource-related environments in each of the eighteen Forest Carbon Partnership Facility carbon fund countries. Lead by David Bledsoe, the team is examining formal governance frameworks and customary regimes, along with the institutional landscapes, that affect women’s land and forest tenure, their ability to exercise their rights in existing statutory and customary systems, how these rights can be affected by the Carbon Fund programs, and what specifically is needed to protect and even strengthen these rights.

Extractives, Land and Women – Publish What You Pay
David Bledsoe and Margaret Rugadya are supporting “Publish What You Pay” (PWYP) and its local country teams in Mozambique, Mozambique, and Uganda on research to improve women’s participation in influencing and earmarking extractive revenues for the benefit of communities at the local level.

We’re contributing to the design of the country-focused research, supporting the synthesis of research findings, assisting in the preparation of country reports and an overarching synthesis report, and aiding in dissemination of learnings and global advocacy promoting reforms in each of the countries.

PWYP is a global movement of civil society organizations in over 50 countries committed to making oil, gas, and mineral governance open, accountable, sustainable, equitable, and responsive to all people.

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