Online Discussion:How can women’s land rights be secured?
ILC, FAO and IFAD are organising a side-event at the 56th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) to learn from policies, projects and processes through which women’s land rights have been secured. This discussion wants to gather inputs to enrich our debate in New York and raise the profile of women’s land rights issues in the CSW more generally. Open for contributions from 23 January to 6 February 2012.
Why are women’s land rights so important?
The most important resource for rural women is land. Despite women’s critical role and contribution to agriculture, rural development, and food security, women across the world are discriminated in terms of their access to, ownership of and control over land, and the income produced from it. Women’s ability to access land and to claim, use and defend rights to land and other natural resources is weakened by their status within the household and community, as well as discriminatory customary or statutory laws. Growing commercial pressures on land increase dependency on subsistence agriculture and further undermine women’s land rights.
According to FAO’s 2011 State of Food and Agriculture Report (SOFA), evidence of gender inequalities in access to land is ‘overwhelming’: social norms discriminate against women, with customary practices restricting women’s ability to own or operate land, and if they do, that land is generally of a lesser quality and size than men’s (SOFA 2011:23ff), but land rights for women are crucial to closing the gender gap in agriculture. In IFAD supported programmes, secure land tenure is central to reducing rural poverty and increasing agricultural production, as well as achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment. ILC, a network of intergovernmental and civil society organisations, of which IFAD and FAO are founding members, promotes secure and equitable access to land for women and men and has a targeted Women’s Land Rights Initiative.