The female land access conundrum

13 July 2018 | Columns

Female access to land in the region has been put firmly under the microscope by a motion at a recent plenary session of the SADC Parliamentary Forum (PF), which took place in Luanda.

The motion enjoined SADC parliaments to debate the gender dimension of land ownership and agricultural industrialisation in their respective countries.

Additionally, the motion encouraged the SADC PF to engage the secretariat to determine progress towards advancing women’s access to land in the agricultural sector.

While seconding the motion by veteran South African lawmaker Rosalia Morotua, Tanzanian MP Esther Masi highlighted that women in most SADC countries simply do not own land, yet they are the ones that produce food and feed their nations.

Malawi MP Patricia Kainga said the SADC gender protocol barometer of 2017 attributes the poor access to land by women to stringent trade facilities that most women are unable to qualify for, and customary practices that prevent them from inheriting land.

In the Namibian context, as the country’s second national land conference approaches in October, issues relating to female ownership of land needs to be aired and dealt with effectively.

The lands ministry has already indicated that the conference will deliberate on what more can be done to fast-track the implementation of the 1991 land conference resolutions and other land-related issues that have emerged during the implementation of the country’s land programme.

Critical to this is female ownership of land.

In an effort to ensure inclusivity, government has established a high-level coordinating committee for the land conference. The committee, which was inaugurated on 29 May, is comprised of 32 members drawn from the government, farmers’ unions, trade unions and academics.

Female voices and pressure groups should be part and parcel of this high-level committee, especially because statistics show that in 2016, Namibia had 589 787 households, of which 53.6% were headed by males and 46.4% by females.

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