Making the Invisible Seen: Putting Women's Rights on the Vanuatu's Land Reform Agenda

Citation:

Naupa, Anna. 2017. "Making the Invisible Seen: Putting Women’s Rights on Vanuatu’s Land Reform Agenda." In Kastom, Property and Ideology: Land Transformations in Melanesia, edited by McDonnell Siobhan, Allen Matthew G., and Filer Colin, 305-26. Acton ACT, Australia: ANU Press. 

 

Author: Anna Naupa

Annotation:

Summary:

"While land reform was a key political driver of Vanuatu’s Independence in 1980, land policy reform only recently returned to the political arena in the mid-2000s. Finding the space to raise awareness about women’s land rights in a Vanuatu land reform context is challenged by competing reform priorities, such as redress mechanisms for unscrupulous deals, customary conflict resolution, and anti-corruption measures that had been overlooked for a couple of decades. Predominantly viewed as a male domain, the absence of women is notable in land discussions. Women have been largely invisible in state-managed land decisions, not least due to exclusionary practices by the males who control access to land in the traditional arena. Compounded by the primacy of customary land practice enshrined by Vanuatu’s Constitution and state reinforcement of such gender bias, advocating for women’s land rights—and women’s rights in general—has required culturally and politically strategic approaches to finding a place in the land reform agenda.

"This paper analyses the different strategies used to raise awareness and advocate for the recognition of women’s rights to land in Vanuatu’s policy reform context. Given the cultural context in Vanuatu, it has been necessary to adopt an advocacy model that goes beyond framing the language of rights within accepted socio-cultural constructs, to also address the political-economic dimensions of gendered access to land through identifying male champions, and to combine both upstream (awareness-raising) and downstream (coalition-building) advocacy paths. Future advocacy efforts must include greater engagement by women themselves, not just their advocates, for reform efforts to be sustainable (Naupa, 2017, 306)."

Topics: Gender, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Land grabbing, Rights, Land Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Oceania Countries: Vanuatu

Year: 2017

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