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6.1 Land administrators should not underestimate their role, in conjunction with other professions, in allocating, adjudicating, protecting, and changing the way in which people hold rights to land. In the past the major impact of land administration was on the size and shape of land parcels and the granting and adjudicating of associated rights. Today, land administrators also have a role in broad tenure reforms and in improving security of tenure through law, land economics, and information management. They should be ensuring that the land administration systems, laws and procedures that are put in place during such reforms do not adversely affect the rights of groups and individuals.

6.2 Learning more about how to approach the gender dimension in both dynamic, wide-sweeping projects and day-to-day operations is a first step in achieving desired objectives. Land administrators need a much deeper understanding of the complexity of land tenure arrangements than they had in the past if they are to address the gender and equity issues. The following section discusses some of the measures that should be considered by professionals working in both rural and urban environments. It is recognised that it may not be possible or practical to apply fully all of these measures during a project cycle.

Include all sectors of the population

6.3 Obtain knowledge of the local situation. If project managers are to know whether gender issues exist with respect to access to land, there must be an adequate pre-project assessment of the situation. The level of detail and complexity of the assessment will depend on the local situation and the objectives of the project. However, if the situation does appear to have gender-related issues, then special measures may have to be taken to understand the potential implications of and for the project. This can be assisted by undertaking baseline studies and monitoring changes during the project. Obtaining feedback before and during the project from all members of the community, in addition to community leaders, is important. Post-project evaluation (the role of which is too often disregarded or minimized) is essential to understand what worked and what did not and what were the lessons learned.

6.4 Ensure active participation by both women and men in the processes. This includes ensuring that both women and men in the project staff and communities affected participate fully in all stages of the project processes. Inclusion should not be just an afterthought, but should exist from planning, to implementation, and to evaluation of the results. Sensitive ways must be found in some communities to allow women and men to share their views and experiences openly, especially with strangers or in front of community leaders. For example, one way in which people in the community or organization can be encouraged to participate is to provide gender role models as key project staff members.

6.5 Explain the rights and obligations associated with holding title to land. Title recipients should feel comfortable about being title or formal rights holders. They should understand the rights, responsibilities and opportunities that title to land carries and the potential changes and consequences this may bring in terms of their status (e.g., fees and taxes to be paid during transaction, possible tension with relatives, etc.)

6.6 Provide opportunities for all rights holders to be explicitly recognized. If a land titling, land registration, or information system project is designed to document rights to land, then decisions need to be made as to:

In addition, there is a need for the decisions made on these issues to be accepted by the recipient community to ensure the sustainability of the systems introduced.

6.7 Include a spouse’s or partner’s name in all legal documents as appropriate. The identification of the spouse on documents concerning land rights, including any official register of land rights, helps to prevent fraud, adds security for both partners beyond family or legislative recognition (e.g., matrimonial laws), and helps to ensure that both partners understand what their rights are. Situations involving more than one spouse or where spouses are absent need also to be considered in conjunction with the community. In addition provisions need to be in place to efficiently maintain any status changes. Legislative changes could be promoted to provide that if a person is married, the land or house is held in joint ownership unless proved otherwise.

6.8 Consider that many have limited financial resources. Many members of the community may have limited access to financial resources outside immediate family members. Any procedures requiring financial compensation (e.g., fees for services under cost-recovery schemes or taxes for registration) should be carefully examined to ensure they do not present a burden for the disadvantaged and thus exclude them from the benefits of the project.

6.9 Simplify and decentralise registration and other land administration procedures. The very poor or the illiterate are often unable to comply with excessive documentation requirements. They are also unlikely to represent their interests effectively and in a timely manner required in procedures designed with a bias toward the more affluent segments of society. A major factor may be transportation and the need to take time from employment.

6.10 Establish land administration institutions that are responsive and accommodating to women as well as men. Efficient, decentralised land administration agencies are better able to serve the community. Participatory methodologies and decision-making structures can provide opportunities for inclusion.

6.11 Recognize both women and men as stakeholders.20 Zwarteveen emphasizes the importance of gender inclusive participation when rights of access to water and land are determined. The active participation of all stakeholders throughout the program - from research to implementation and post project evaluation - is key if their interests are to be taken into account. A detailed knowledge of community groups is important when conducting stakeholder analyses. Women’s associations involved with farming operations and other related activities should be enhanced and promoted.

6.12 Propose alternative land holding models. There are instances where combining individual, common, public or group ownership may provide a better gender inclusive solution than existing land tenure arrangements. For example, in some societies individual titles may deprive some people of use rights unless they are protected in some other way.

6.13 Ensure effective access to land through other support. Providing equitable access to land is not enough. To be effective, access to land must also include access to other resources (such as financing, technology, and training) and to required support systems (e.g., roads, marketing co-operatives). Without gender inclusive access to these resources and support, the projects may leave behind nothing but paper titles and boundary markers.

6.14 Ensure that mechanisms for safeguarding and enforcing land rights are sustainable. Pottier21 and others suggest that those who do not have power or status in the community (often women or marginalized persons) frequently lose access to certain resources when they become profitable or receive more attention. Too often this will occur after the development project team has left. To prevent capture of project benefits by elites or other powerful groups, the establishment of longer-term community structures, such as committees comprising men and women, should be promoted.

6.15 Support gender inclusive participation in land administration organisations. This will help the project implementers ensure that foreign project members and recipient organization staff have a better understanding of the issues related to gender and land locally. This gender inclusiveness can also open up communication bridges to the community reducing gender barriers in project participation. Projects can also enhance sustained gender inclusive participation in a land project through education and training. Some donors require that women and men should participate equally in land administration training and education abroad and this strategy has been very successful in enhancing the sustainability of any gender inclusive policy.

Remove barriers to access to information

6.16 Share awareness of the issues and their complexity. Just being aware that there may be some potential gender issues is a long step forward. This will help project managers and other participants in policy formation or project design understand that they need to be sensitive to potential impacts. Awareness of the complications in what may have seemed to be a straight forward land administration project, may help professionals decide whether or not people with specialised expertise may be necessary. It is also important that land administrators share this awareness with their staff and others involved in the projects.

6.17 Disseminate information in a way that is easily understood by both women and men. The illiteracy rate is often much higher among women than men, and higher for rural people than urban populations. Furthermore, the ways in which people relate to certain issues, such as efficient household water access, may be very gender dependent. Adoption of training and advisory materials for different types of audiences is necessary because differences will not only be reflected by gender, but by education and economic status. Employ those forms of media that best reach all people including those in rural areas and in poorer districts of cities. Radio and television may be more effective communication tools than public forums in some cultures.

6.18 Consult those people directly who will be affected by the program outcomes. More accurate information can be gathered as to the priorities and interests of all stakeholders when they are asked directly. This may require gender sensitive approaches and understanding of the cultural protocols.

6.19 Ensure that there is a two-way communication mechanism in place between women and project implementers. Gender-related experience and knowledge should be part of the initial community assessment. Facts pertinent to the project should be communicated to all stakeholders and all must have opportunity to voice their concerns in an appropriate manner. Religious and customary laws governing the interactions between women and men must be understood before the project and accommodated in the project.

6.20 Ensure that staff working with local communities are gender balanced. Both men and women generally relate better to authority figures or outsiders who are of the same gender. Staff will also need to be briefed because it should not be assumed that a man or woman wants to or is able to take on a gender-bridging role in the project.

6.21 Document and share lessons learned and best practices. Obtaining relevant and reliable information regarding gender and land is often difficult. For that reason, sharing information and experiences within the larger land administration community has enormous significance.

Address the obstacles to participation

6.22 Be aware of daily schedules. Plan meetings and information sessions during those parts of the day when women and men are able to attend; these times may be different. Rural poor are also seldom able to travel long distances for the purpose of attending meetings or complying with procedures. The place of meeting schedules should be considered as some women may be uncomfortable or unable to leave their homes unaccompanied. Holding meetings in a woman’s house, for example, may encourage more involvement.

6.23 Analyse decision-making patterns within domestic units. It is often the male head of the domestic unit who is viewed as the decision-maker but this may not always be correct. Research also has shown that a male or female decision-maker does not necessarily represent the interests of all other members in the domestic unit.22 Receiving independent input from both women and men is essential when a project may affect their well-being.

6.24 Recognise the different needs of people. All women are not alike and neither are all men. People who are economically or educationally in a relatively good position will have different interests than many poorer rural people, for example. Their participation and input should not replace that of those less advantaged. Special attention also needs to be given to the situation of divorcees, single parent households, and the elderly.

Work with the local communities

6.25 Identify rural institutions responsible for the implementation of customary rules. This can often be complex and detailed, and may vary between communities. One of the important elements in the project or programme may be an interdisciplinary approach. Land administrators are not usually sociologists or anthropologists, nor micro finance experts. Part of any successful project is knowing when to bring in the experts.

6.26 Oversee the legitimacy of all validated land claims. Access to resources can only be sustainable if it is viewed by the community - both men and women - as legitimate. Projects should strive to create a framework within which resources can be allocated more equitably. Projects should ensure that their outcomes are accepted by the members of the community.

6.27 Investigate what rights prevail in conflicts. Identify the rights (including inheritance, divorce, property rights, family law, etc.) that are upheld in the event of conflict between written and customary laws. Once again, experts can provide those who design and implement projects with a better understanding of the issues, the status of the law, and any contradictions.

6.28 Acknowledge when there is a problem regarding inequitable access to land and associated resources. Gender inequities in secure access land are not always transparent. Customary tenure systems vary from place to place; they are also subject to transformation over time as the social and economic fabric of rural communities are subject to new forces. Bringing the issue to the attention of appropriate authorities may not always be popular, but should be considered part of a professional’s code of ethics.

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