Lands in communities around the world are mostly owned by men with women having little access and right to ownership of land for farming. Thus, the FAO is calling for measures to make it easier for women and girls to have equal tenure rights and have access to lands, fisheries, and forests.
This call was made by Moshibudi Rampedi, FAO Gambia country representative who was speaking recently during a Women Land Rights Policy Forum.
The convergence, held at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Center in Bijilo, Gambia, was organized by The Resilience of Organisations for Transformative Smallholder Agriculture Programme (Roots) project which seeks to increase agricultural productivity and access to markets for enhanced food security, nutrition, and resilience for family farms and farmer organizations.
She noted that FAO as an international organization in 2010 developed and launched a gender and women’s rights database, saying: “I hope that the database would be part of what you will consider today during your discussion because it allows member states to certain reality issues that would make us realize the development of women’s rights.”
“We are also supporting member states to identify what are major political, legal, and cultural factors that influence gender equality when it comes to land tenure. We support member states to address issues related to gender disparity in making sure that they collect and analyze statistics that are related to ownership of lands and in this case, we always encourage member states where possible to adopt and follow international standards.”
For gender equality, she added, what is important is that “we should ensure that the equal rights of women and men in the enjoyments of all human rights, while we acknowledge the differences between women and men. We need to take specific measures to make it easier for women and girls to have equal tenure rights and have access to lands, fisheries, and forest,” she posited, adding: “We can never overlook the importance of making it possible for women to access lands because, without ownership, it simply means we are putting limitation for the ability of women to contribute to the economy of the country.”
Mamour Alieu Jagne, Roots project coordinator, said “We want to discuss and reflect on the current situations of land tenure systems in the country on how women in particular, but also youths and other social groups are participating in this system, how they understand the existing barriers and opportunities, but more importantly on how to enhance their participation.”
“We will also look at lessons learned from the NEMA project in terms of its achievement among others. At the end of the day, we are hoping to identify the types of support that are needed to improve the recognition of women’s rights to lands and enhance attention to improving lands governance among the relevant communities, practitioners, and government agencies at different levels.”
Isatou Dea Sawaneh, the chairperson of the National Women’s Council, affirmed that women’s ownership of lands is key towards the country achieving its development objectives, further claiming: “The issues of women ownership to lands have been going on for decades. It’s a problem, but I am quite optimistic that it could be addressed even if it’s not immediate. However, it’s good that we kick start so that we can recognize women’s rights to lands.”
“We should therefore look at ways on how to address this phenomenon in our quest to achieve the development of women in the country by making sure that women have access to their lands and also making sure that women do not waste their time on lands that would never be theirs.”