47 Implementation of AU declaration on land in africa: strengthening secure land tenure for women

Secure land tenure for women

Organizers: Africa Union Commission; Land Policy Iniative; CSO Platform


The Framework and Guidelines (F&G) on Land Policy in Africa endorsed in 2009 by African Heads of States through the Declaration on Land Issues and Challenges constitute the African Union agenda on land. Its implementation is done in recognition of the contribution of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in Context of National Food Security (VGGT) as another tool to improve land governance on the continent. The F&G and VGGT contribute to AU efforts towards the eradication of hunger and poverty based on the principles of sustainable development and the recognition of centrality of land by promoting secure rights and equitable access to land by women. The Land Policy Initiative (LPI) committed to facilitate dialogue on women’s land rights issues with a view to raising awareness on the importance of addressing related challenges that hamper socio-economic development, advocate for women’s land rights in the context of land policy development and implementation, coordinate and galvanize the efforts of partners towards effective synergies and partnerships for addressing women’s land rights, facilitate resource mobilization in support of efforts to address women’s land rights in land policy related research, advocacy, capacity development, technical support and advisory services among others. Based on the findings of a continental study conducted on Women’s land rights and consultations with Women organizations and other relevant stakeholders, the LPI advocated for a 30% target of documented land rights allocated to African women by 2025. The 30% target was endorsed by the AU Specialized Technical Committee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment (STC) held on 05-06 October 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Key speakers

Mr. Laila Lokosang, African Union Commission (AUC)  - Rural Economy and Agriculture

Ambassador  M. S. Mubi, Office of the President and Cabinet - Department of Public Affairs and Knowledge Management

Ms. Kafui F. Kuwonu, Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) - West Africa Sub- regional Programme

Ms. Brave Ndisale, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) - Social Policies and Rural Institutions Division 

Mr. Manuel Flury, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) - Global Programme Food Security 

Chair: Dr. Joan Kawanja, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) - Land Policy Initiative 

Main themes/issues discussed

On 19 October 2016, the Land Policy Initiative – a tripartite partnership of the African Union Commission (AUC), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and African Development Bank (AfDB), organized a side-event at the CFS 43 to draw attention to and facilitate implementation of the African Union recommendation that Member States allocate at least 30% of documented land to women by 2025.  

In his opening remarks, Mr. Laila Lokosang highlighted the gender and land related commitments of the African Union as expressed in numerous instruments including the AU Declaration of Land Issues and Challenges in Africa and the AU 30 % target of documented land rights for women. He underscored the need to realize the incremental 30% documented land rights for women by 2025 to progress toward attaining gender equality in accordance with the African Agenda 2063.

Ambassador Mary Mobi further emphasized the significance of the AU Declaration on Land Issues and Challenges in Africa, noting that a declaration on a sensitive issue is a considerable achievement. She urged stakeholders to take necessary actions to implement the existing commitments mindful of the pluralistic legal frameworks that govern most land in Africa. She also cautioned against broad generalizations about customary systems and stressed the importance of recognizing the positive aspects of customary systems and acknowledging the significance of traditional authorities within most African contexts. In addition, Ambassador Mobi noted the importance of awareness raising for enabling citizens to better benefit from existing policies and laws. In conclusion, she called for interventions that place women higher in the agriculture value chain and facilitate women’s access to other productive resources.

Ms. Kafui F. Kuwonu message focused on the Kilimanjaro Initiative, a rural women initiative supported by civil society organizations including the LPI CSO Platform. The initiative seeks to create space for the representation and participation of rural women in land related decision-making processes. Further to the women’s call for empowerment and at the conclusion of a symbolic gathering at Mount Kilimanjaro, the women presented an African Women Charter of demands on land rights in Kilimanjaro. The Charter outlines 15 demands including implementing the AU 30 % target by 2025.

Ms. Brave Ndisale called attention to the disparities between women’s contribution and their lack of or limited access to productive resources and related services.  She shared some of FAO’s work to address gender inequalities in numerous spheres including land. Specifically, she highlighted FAO’s investment in data, advocacy, capacity development and monitoring. 

Mr. Manuel Flury stated the Swiss Government’s reasons for supporting land related initiatives, domestically and globally.  He called upon the donor community to work with in-country stakeholders in line with national policy frameworks and strategies.  To this end, he underscored the importance of seeking alignment at all levels. 

Key outcomes/take away messages

Realizing the AU 30% target by 2025 requires a concerted, inclusive and a demand - driven approach specifically tailored to local circumstances. This calls for actions at multiple levels.

Continental and Sub-regional Institutions: 

1. Employ an institutional framework for reporting compliance rates on the 30 percent target.

AU Member States: 

2. Include the AU 30 percent target in national strategies and action plans.

3. Harmonize policy and legal frameworks to facilitate implementation of the 30 percent target.

4. Ensure that land related programs include provisions that advance the 30 percent target.

5. Prioritize the collection of relevant sex disaggregated data. 

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs):

6. Support capacity development of CSOs to enhance their technical capacity to advocate for and monitor compliance of the AU 30 percent target.

Development Partners:

7. Align support with national policies and strategies to advance implementation of the AU Declaration on Land Issues and Challenges in Africa and the AU 30 percent target for women’s documented rights to land.