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Digest 1 Dear contributors!

Digest 1

Dear contributors!

Thank you very much for starting this discussion! I would like summarise the main points raised and pose a few questions to deepen our discussion:

LETA HONG FINCHER stressed that the structural discrimination against women with regard to their property rights is similar across countries and usually expressed through inequality in marriage, divorce, widowhood and inheritance - and that, in China, rural and urban women are affected by similar mechanisms of dispossession.

Q: Are there any differences in how urban and rural women cope with dispossession and do you know of women (urban or rural) organising individually/in groups to claim their rights? It would be great if you could share more information about the Chinese context of land and property rights, both in terms of the legal structures and social norms that discriminate against women.

JAGAT BASNET from CSRC in Nepal lists grassroots women’s collective organising, lobbying policy-makers and a campaign for cultural change that also targets men as crucial elements to achieve improvements for women’s land rights, as has happened in Nepal, where tax discounts on women’s title registration and joint ownership titles have encouraged more women to apply.

Q: This is a great example of a policy promoting women’s land rights! What were your most effective strategies to facilitate grassroots organising, how did women’s organisations approach policy-makers and how was the campaign conceived? And what are the main obstacles you had to overcome to work with women and men in communities?

SWADHINA from India stressed that a huge gap remains between laws (that grassroots women lack knowledge of) and the social norms that continue to prevail at local level. Swadhina therefore focused on informing women about laws, packaging information in an accessible and culturally-appropriate way. By doing so, Swadhina raised women’s awareness about their rights.

Q: Thank you for this example of how women’s awareness can be raised. Could you share how you included other community members, especially elders/tribal authorities in the information campaign and the festivals? How did you engage men and what was their reaction? Does the festival continue after the end of your project?

WALIUZZAMAN from ActionAid Bangladesh shared that a number of policies hinder women’s access to land in Bangladesh, though it seems that the government has responded to ActionAid’s campaign for policy change.

Q: It is good to hear that government seems to be responsive! What do you think were the reasons they responded to ActionAid’s campaign, and how was this campaign built? It would also be great if you could share more details on the policies that hinder women’s access to land. And please, do share the findings from your research with us!

PAOLO GROPPO shared the example of an FAO-project on territorial rights in Mozambique that explicitly addresses women’s rights. This project started by creating enabling conditions at the policy and legal level so that community rights are recognised, working with government, civil society and United Nations agencies and using a method called ” Participatory Land Delimitation” (which they are happy to share with anyone interested). Once community rights were recognised, the project then moved on to recognising individual plots, including those of women, and three titles for women (the first in the country!) have now been issued. Paolo emphasised that it took a long time to build relationships of trust with the various actors involved, including with communities, but that with patience and perseverance, we can move mountains!

Q: Thanks Paolo for the encouraging words, we do indeed want to move mountains! Could you share how you built trust with government, civil society and communities and what the most effective strategies were? Did you work with local or national women’s organisations to create the legal and policy conditions? We are looking forward to hearing more from the project coordinator, Marianna, or you, and please do share the methodology for participatory delimitation on the Land Portal!

SIBABRATA CHOUDHURY from India stressed that women’s land rights are critical for poverty alleviation and food security, giving the example of homestead plots which can contribute to the family’s food basket and reduce malnutrition. However, regulations in favour of women’s land rights (for instance, joint titles in government land allocation programmes) are not always implemented and households headed by single women need to be targeted more as they are most vulnerable. 

Q: Thank you! On the homestead plots, do you have more detailed information you can share? What do you think are the main factors that block implementation of regulations in favour of women? Do give us more details about lessons learnt on how to address gender issues in the land allocation project you are working on! Also, this article on malnutrition in India and securing women’s land rights might be of interest to you!

And, last but not least, RITA, welcome you to the discussion, we look forward to hearing more about your research.

Keep your contributions coming!

Best, Sabine


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