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Put Land in the Hands of Women for Economic Transformation - A Call for Policy Makers

Kigali — On the eve of the Kigali 27th African Union Summit, Land Policy Initiative (LPI) - an initiative of the African Union Commission (AUC), Economic Commission (ECA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) - launched a campaign aiming at documented allocation of 30 percent of land to African Women by 2025.

According to Ms. Joan Kagwanja, Chief of Land Policy Initiative (LPI), African women have a significant role in agriculture where they contribute more than 60 percent of their labour towards food production, yet a complex set of circumstances constrain their access to and control of land under both customary and statutory realms of land governance and management.

Kagwanja explains that since 2009, the African Union Heads of State and Governments committed to address issues related to access and security of land tenure for women when they adopted the AU Declaration on Land Issues and Challenges. Further, the 2015 AU Specialised Technical Committee (STC) on Agriculture and Rural Development, Water and Environment, recommends that member states move towards allocation of 30 percent of land to women, in order to facilitating their economic empowerment, through legislative and other mechanisms.

The launch for the 30 percent Campaign for Women's Land ownership was organized as part of the third African Union High Level Panel on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment, which was opened by the AUC Chairperson, Ms. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

Ms. Zuma recalled that texts and protocols for women's rights are in place, yet there is a disconnect between the ratio of legal instruments adopted and their effective implementation. She cited Rwanda as a good example that can be emulated by other African countries struggling to achieve equal rights for women, noting that "it can be done and it will be done."

The Land Policy Initiative leveraged the AU 2016 theme of "African Year on Human's Rights with a particular focus on the Rights of Women" to highlight that there is a direct relationship between women's right to land, economic empowerment, food security and poverty reduction.

Kagwanja observed that while the 30 percent target for women's joint or individual ownership of land by 2025 is ambitious, it is impossible to otherwise achieve Agenda 2063 or SDG (agenda 2030) targets related to women's empowerment and ending poverty and hunger.

Kagwanja noted that a "Women and Land program", being considered in the auspices of establishing the African Land Policy Center (ALPC), will be instrumental to facilitating research, advocacy and capacity towards review of land legislation and identifying options for affordable, efficient and decentralized land administration institutions closer to people so that women in rural areas can document their land rights. "It should not take 10 years to get a land title nor should a woman travel 300 kilometers to get a land certificate," she said.