The third ILC Gender Justice Lab of 2023 presented the preliminary outcomes of a research on gender perspectives on community land rights conducted in 2023, based on interviews with ILC members.
The author of the research and some key respondents walked us through the outcomes of the research and specific experiences across regions. The Lab took into account intersectional perspectives and explored the complex but positive interaction between women’s land rights, the commons and community land rights. It also highlighted how women's participation in the struggle to secure community land rights can generate new opportunities for their involvement in the governance of common land and can contribute to their rights broadly.
WHAT WE LEARNED
- Why the commons and community land rights are important.
- How the complex but positive interaction between women’s land rights and community land rights work.
- What role women play in protecting community lands.
WE LEARNED WITH
- Maya Khanna - Junior Campaigner for Land Rights Now Campaign and author of the study as Postgraduate Fellow at ILC
- Kanchan Lama - Women's Economic Empowerment, Nepal
- Nalemuta Moisan - PWC, Tanzania
The Lab was moderated by Elisabetta Cangelosi, Gender Justice Advisor at ILC, with remarks from Raquel Reynoso Rosales, Coordinator of the Democratic Governance and Decentralization Programme at SER (Peru).
STRENGTHENING WOMEN'S RIGHTS ON COMMON LANDS
Maya introduced different forms of commons and collective land management by communities. All over the world these lands are particularly affected by land grabbing, the climate crisis, privatisation and political instability, with women being the most affect group.
How to promote and protect women’s rights in a context where communities depend upon common land? The following good practices and key findings emerged from Maya’s research with ILC members:
- All project must consult with local women to determine their vision about common lands.
- It is critical to proactively identify and account for women’s intersectional identities.
- Secure spaces such as women’s fora and meetings to enhance knowledge are key.
- Individual rights can sometimes be counterproductive in the context of common lands.
- Women’s participation in protecting and securing community land rights can generate new opportunities for them.
Watch this space to read Maya’s research as soon as published!
CHALLENGING MALE DOMINATED POWER DYNAMICS IN NEPAL
Kanchan presented the case of Bhujel women in Nepal: indigenous women who wanted to access common land, but faced male dominated decisions and stereotypes about their technical and managerial capacities that discouraged them. The entire case was very much linked to challenging male dominated patriarchalcontexts and discriminatory power dynamics. However, building upon their indigenous strength, women looked for support and fought for their rights: they managed to gain access to common property and get their own source of livelihoods. It is crucial to identify how to support women in this struggle.
SENSITISATION, WOMEN’S SOLIDARITY AND COLLABORATION IN TANZANIA
Nalemuta presented the work of the Pastoralist Women Council and focused on the issues faced by pastoralists communities in Tanzania, such as poor participation in decision making, lack of confidence and cultural stereotypes against women in the Maasai community. Gender based violence is also contributing to shrinking spaces for women, as well as discriminatory legal framework and financial constraints.
Addressing these issues is core to promoting women’s land rights, both individual and communal. Sensitisation, building women’s solidarity and collaboration, and promoting policy changes are core to achieving transformation.
SELF-CONFIDENCE AND RECIPROCAL SUPPORT
Raquel highlighted the commonalities between the cases of Nepal and Tanzania, focusing on the role of men (and the need to re-discuss masculinities) as well as on the importance of fighting for common and collective territories by and for women to defend practices and cosmovision about land and territories. Within collective territories there are different dynamics and the role of women is crucial. Alliances with other women and with other actors are crucial to achieve this change. Knowledge of the territories (and their demarcation) is also key to defend them.
Beyond discriminatory dynamics determined by patriarchy, women are often victims of themselves: it is important to build the self-confidence of women as leaders and provide reciprocal support. This has personal, family, political and community impact!
Raquel finally highlighted how care work - including its implication on mental health and family dynamics - should be part of the discussion, because of its impact on promoting and encouraging women’s participation and leadership roles.