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UNCCD Conference highlight challenges on Women’s land Rights

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By Leonard Masauli

An independent Consultant for United Nations Convention to Combat Deforestation (UNCCD) Lorena Aguilar has said Women access to land still remains a challenge with less than 20 percent having land rights globally.

This was said during a virtual Media briefing with Journalists across Africa this week.

She said there are major gaps with regards to women’s land ownership across regions, for example, less than 20% of all landholders globally are women.

Aguilar said only 44 countries accord women the same inheritance rights as men in both law and practice, while 29 countries do not grant female surviving spouses and daughters the same rights as their male equals to inherit land and non-land assets.

She said this is one of the world’s strongest markers of disadvantage, which is why reducing inequality is fundamental to achieving the SDGs and other internationally agreed-upon goals.

“However, equitable land governance and land security tenure are critical to enabling land restoration efforts led by women, for example for making investments for sustainable land management such as soil conservation and augmentation, terracing, tree planting and establishment of buffer zones.

“Likewise, insecure tenure rights are frequently cited as contributing to land and forest degradation. Not having land titles that can be used as collateral, or the lack of secure tenure, hinder women’s access to loans and credit, and limits their access to extension services and training,” said Aguilar in her speech

The Consultant further said consequently, there is no gender equality without women’s rights to land, and addressing women’s land rights is imperative to any effort related to land degradation, desertification and droughts.

Commenting on the UNCCD study report, Landnet, an organization championing for women access to land, Edward Thole said Likewise, Malawi land rights remain a challenge for women.

He said Patrilineal societies are very protective of their land from being taken over by incoming in laws based on the current inheritance laws and as such, women as either married or sister, are not granted exclusive right to own land.

“While women are taken as gate keepers for land in matrimonial societies, the right is limited to usage while ownership and control remains in the hands of men as uncles. In a nutshell, there is no land tenure for women.

“As remedies, awareness activities target women to buy and own their own land which is possible in some parts of the central and southern Malawi, but it is an impossible thing in the northern region where women are not allowed to own land due to inheritance laws that seem to support the cause,” said Thole

Thole said however, lack of awareness and appropriate redress thwarts processes towards the cause, but the laws that allows women to register their land, the inheritance laws place the immediate spouse to own property.

The head of states and government official’s representative at the convention are expected to agree on several declarations, and among others include the gender issues which is spearheaded by the Ivory Coast government, as well as land tenure and women access to land.

The Conference is meant to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of droughts in countries experiencing serious droughts particularly in Africa and the theme is; land, life, legacy; from scarcity to prosperity.



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