As we celebrate Rural Women’s Day, learn what ILC members are doing to promote women’s land rights and how we work together to challenge patriarchal norms.
This is the second of four Labs of the “Women for Women 2022 Learning Labs series”. Topics are selected by women taking part in the ILC mentoring and solidarity network “Women for Women”. This Lab contributes to the celebration of Rural Women’s day (October 15th). It focuses on the work of ILC members to promote and defend women’s rights to their land and territories.
WHAT YOU WILL LEARN
- What actions are ILC members implementing to promote WLRs?
- What are the challenges that women face in claiming their land rights?
- How can local and global organisations cooperate to challenge patriarchal norms that hamper women’s (land) rights?
MEET THE EXPERTS
- Mino Ramaroson - Huairou Commission, Madagascar
- Daniela Savid - Fundacion Plurales, Argentina
- Farida Parvin Kaya - CDA, Bangladesh
The Lab was moderated by Elisabetta Cangelosi, ILC Gender Justice Advisor.
TOOLS AND PLATFORMS FROM THE LOCAL TO THE GLOBAL LEVEL
Mino focused on Huairou Commission (HC) mission with regard to Women’s Land Rights (WLR) and how local and global organisations cooperate to challenge patriarchal norms that hamper women’s (land) rights. HC main objective is to empower grassroots women groups, bringing and supporting their voices to significant debate. They work on resilience building and securing access to land to the women they work with. Land is also considered in the perspective of being an asset to access other rights and services.
HC develop strategies to respond to land insecurity, elaborating specific tools: among them, Mino mentioned some that are particularly effective also to look into stereotypes and norms that are hindering women’s access to land. For example, the local-to-local dialogue, which helps groups discuss with local and traditional authorities, where often patriarchal norms are embedded; the watchdog groups to secure women’s land; or the Gender Evaluation Criteria (see ILC good practice).
HC also supports peer-to-peer learning experiences, such as advocacy platform for grassroots women to exchange experiences and tools (Women Land Ligue Africa).
It is also crucial for them to be part of regional and global initiatives, such as the Civil Society Platform on Land in Africa, the Kilimanjaro initiative, or Stand For Her Land Campaign.
Mino highlighted how global and local level are connected and stressed the importance of community led and people-centered monitoring.
FOUR APPROACHES TO WORK WITH RURAL AND INDIGENOUS WOMEN
Daniela presented how Fundacion Plurales (FP) works with rural and indigenous women, following four different appraoches.
The first one is a specific strategy towards strengthening networks of women, which is crucial to exchange knowledge, creating joint strategy and support women: FP is now part of several networks at regional and global level.
A dedicated Women Defenders program (programa de Defensoras ambientales) is also a particularly effective one: since six years, it focuses on defenders from Argentina, Paraguary and Bolivia, and aims at strengthening different groups of defenders - providing them with technical, political and financial support).
FP is also involved, thanks to support of ILC, in Alternative Reporting to CESCR, CEDAW and UPR. This engagement evolved from a tool to involve women and present their challenges and voices to the committees and to work with states, to a long-lasting commitment: they created a committee within the National Land Coalition to follow up on the recommendations issued by the Committees.
Eventually, in 2021 FP launched a Feminist School for Climate Action (Escuela Feminista para la Accion Climatica), which took place virtually and contributed to create and reinforce connection between women from Mexico to Argentina, with specific focus on feminism, climate change, agroecology, defenders, extractivism, and contributed to create joint policy documents and strategies and to get involved in other global events.
According to Daniela’s experience it is important to focus on the intersection between Gender Justice and Environmental Justice and to bring the grassroots women feminist perspective in the interaction with International Treaty Bodies. Daniela also highlited the importance of internalising the gender perspective in their own organisational work. In this regard Fundacion Plurales is engaging in a Gender Audit, which is an exciting although challenging experience, and they also produced a dedicated protocol. Specific challenges in her view include: patriarchal and machist context, access to ethical funds, working with mixed organisation, and including the issue of care work in programs and actions.
Farida presented the experience of CDA in Bangladesh. Its commitment to women’s land rights and empowerment of women and men includes two key strategic approaches: ensuring access to land rights and equalisation of power. In 2021 CDA conducted a peer-to-peer Gender Audit (with CSCR Nepal) to review CDA’s existing policies and practices from a gender perspective. It included quantitative and qualitative data collection through a participatory approach.
What emerged is that while inclusion and non discrimination are crucial for CDA, some challenges still exist in particular in terms of lack of financial tools to enhance female staff participation - from transports facility to dedicated spaces, for example breastfeeding corners. It is hence crucial to ensure women’s friendly workspaces and continue sensitising about gender sensitive policies with regard to staff members.
At national level, women in Bangladesh still lack sufficient access to their rights: laws are still discriminatory against women and should be improved and reformed to ensure access to land rights for them. It is also crucial to engage with international treaty bodies, such as CEDAW, because it provides significant inputs and allows to access the global debate on women’s rights.
THE VIEW OF PARTICIPANTS
The three presentations were followed by a debate with participants, who appreciated the strategies and tools presented by the speakers but also outlined the following main challenges that women face in claiming their land rights:
- Patriarchal social norms
- Structural bias
- Lack of awareness, caused by local stereotypes and practices
- Land grab and diversion creates land scarcity as an excuse to further dis-entitle women
- State policies are not gender responsive
- Lack of resources because due to the high price of land titling process
- Corruption especially amongst the clan leaders who are supposed to help women
- Social conditioning and social patriarchy
- Lack of interest and commitment by States’ structures
- Lack of public policy to formalise women’s land titling
Advancing and prevailing neoliberal and machista policies
- Lack of gender sensitive legal reforms to grant not only property rights but also actual access and control (taking into account cultural practices)
- Lack of specific State institutions focusing on rural women.
ILC members and partners are addressing these challenges by actively promoting WLRs through a variety of actions. Including:
- Coordination and enhancement of common lands rights claims for pastoralists in Gujarat.
- Building gender strategies in land movements.
- Implementing CBI 4 strategies in the different regions.
- Ensuring gender component in the work of NLCs and creating groups of women within the coalitions.
- Women land rights strategic documents and gender justice charter in Africa.
- Awareness raising and increasing women's access to land.
- Encourage women to get land through Forest Rights Act.
- Increasing the strengths of women's organised groups.
- Promoting women’s participation in local management.
- Conducting and supporting Gender Audits.
- Taking active part in advocacy events.
- Putting in place gender committees at community and territorial level.
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