Land tenure is crucial to security and overcoming poverty. In an EGM on women's issues held during the process of consultations contributing to the UN Habitat New Urban Agenda, grassroots women and global experts indentified land tenure as paramount to women's security. The recommendations of this EGM included: Institutionalizing land rights for women; creating and instituting policies prohibiting discrimination against women in owning and renting housing; and adopting policies that protect the disenfranchised from commercial land grabs. Grassroots women in Jamaica, Peru and the Philippines gained secure access to land and created a construction training program of low-cost building practices that provided women with economically viable building skills and improved living environments.(1) Other grassroots women in rural areas have organized into groups to create farming collectives and seed banks for control of distribution of local seeds. Their work is dependent on land security.
Parallel to the development of land tenure security is the establishment of legal frameworks that grant and protect these rights. These legal frameworks must be addressed in conjunction with other laws that affect women, such as marriage and inheritance laws. The security of tenure must be protected from generation to generation. And, women must receive education and guidance about their tenure rights, so that they know their rights and may challenge any obstruction of these rights.
In response to the question from Ekaterine Gurgenidze, "How can we help rural women to help with self respect and understand their significant role in community, family and society?"
There are many grassroots women's groups around the world who are organizing, mapping their communities and proposing solutions to challenges they encounter and must overcome. The Huairou Commission has been working for 20 years to support these women, many rural women, and connect them to share their creative solutions through peer to peer exchanges. Having women empower women with similar circumstances works. Meeting women who have overcome similar challenges is empowering and life changing. I think that all organizations should look to the grassroots for input on programs that supported them in transforming cultural role norms.
1. Pritchett, Regina and Jacqueline Leavitt. June 2012. Women.Cities and Economic Empowerment: Lessons from the Expert Group Meeting, Harvard University Expert Group Meeting.