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New gender and land profiles shed light on women’s rights in Central Asia

The Gender and Land Rights database (GLRD) launches five new country profiles from Central Asia: Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, available in English and Russian.

© FAO/V. Maximov

Land tenure security and equitable access to land are central to agricultural production and the sustainable management of land. It determines whether women and men will invest in land, adopt new technologies or be able to access credit. The five new country profiles from Central Asia, recently launched on the FAO’s Gender and Land Rights Database, suggest that although all five countries have committed to gender equality by complying to international agreements, more needs to be done.

The data from the country profiles confirm that small farmers continue to  face significant difficulties in acquiring land from state farms, and women in particular, have been widely overlooked by post-Soviet land reforms and redistribution programmmes. This, combined with women’s limited access to paid employment, has negatively affected household food security and also weakened their decision-making power within their families and communities.

“Policy makers and land-related institutions must work further to educate the local population on women’s rights to land and to support the legal and institutional mechanisms that prevent gender inequalities in ownership and control over resources. The failure of not doing so constitutes a real threat to food security and rural development, because women make up a considerable proportion of agricultural workers”, says Ana Paula de la O Campos, Gender Policy Officer for FAO’s Gender, Equity and Rural Employment Division.

Important improvements, however, have been accomplished - - particularly in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, where land laws have been brought into line with Article 16 of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

In Kirgizstan, for instance, the Centre for Agrarian Land Reform within the Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and the Processing Industry led a successful awareness campaign to increase understanding among the public on national agrarian reform laws. From 2002−2005, a total of 832 training seminars on the legal aspects of agrarian land reform were organized for rural residents, including women, and information was also broadcast on radio and television, as well as in republic and trade newspapers.

A practical tool for promoting equal rights to land

The Gender and Land Rights Database was launched by FAO in 2010 to highlight the major social, economic, political and cultural factors that influence the enforcement of women's land rights across countries, in all regions.  It provides a practical tool for  policy and decision makers, development practioners,  programme designers, researchers and activists who work directly on land-related issues; and wish to better understand the impact of land-related policies and national strategies on women’s empowerment, as well as agricultural productivity and socioeconomic development.

The  Database  offers:

  • Country-based information on the national and customary laws that determine land use for 78 countries.
  • Comprehensive sets of land-related statistics, on topics like: the total number of land holders, the total number of women land holders and the number of rural households headed by women.
  • Information on inheritance/succession de facto practices.
  • Country level listings of civil society organizations and major institutions working on land-related issues.
  • An overview of the key international treaties and conventions pertinent to gender and land rights, which have been signed and/or ratified at the country level.

More country profiles from  the Near East region will be added to the  Database shortly. Also forthcoming will be information on key FAO projects related to land and women’s rights.