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African parliamentarians call for strengthening women's rights to land
March 29, 2016, 1:38 pm

A workshop on the theme of ‘Strengthening women’s rights to land access: a parliamentarian response to close gender gap for economic development through agriculture’, was organized in early March, in Johannesburg, South Africa, by the Pan-African Parliament (PAP).

The Land Policy Initiative (LPI) — a joint program of the tripartite consortium of the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), which aims to enable the use of land to lend impetus to the process of African development — also participated in the one-day workshop.

During the workshop the participants discussed the close relationship between women’s access to land and economic development on the continent and identified several critical factors the hinder women from using and owning land.

The workshop, while advocating for increased government and community awareness on land rights for women, prompted attending parliamentarians to take up legislation in their respective parliaments designed to influence women's access to and control over land.

Many countries in Africa have made notable progress towards implementing the Maputo Protocol — the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa. The protocol, which has been signed by most countries on the continent, espouses among others, the right to food security, the right to sustainable development, widow’s rights and rights to inheritance for women. However, during the workshop, those countries that are still to ratify, or are moving towards implementing the Protocol, highlighted the various challenges they face.

The Action Plan issued at the end of the workshop identified strategies for strengthening PAP oversight and monitoring of progress made in ratifying, domesticating and implementing the Maputo Protocol. The strategies include capacity building, advocacy, and resource mobilization. In the area of monitoring and evaluation of PAP and national parliaments, a special attention was given to discussing the 30 percent target of documented lands allocated to women by 2025. The target was adopted in October 2015 by the African Union Specialized Technical Committee on agriculture, rural development, water and environment. Parliamentarians agreed that the implementation of this target would benefit women's access to land, and stressed the need to prioritize its implementation and monitoring.

In addition to African parliamentarians, and representatives of LPI, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), and the NGO Habitat for Humanity also attended the workshop.

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