A Stronger Voice for Women in Local Land Governance: Effective Approaches in Tanzania, Ghana and Senegal

Citation:

Sutz, Philippine, Amaelle Seigneret, Mary Richard, Patricia Blankson Akapko, Fati Alhassan, and Mamadou Fall. 2019. A Stronger Voice for Women in Local Land Governance: Effective Approaches in Tanzania, Ghana and Senegal. London: International Institute for Environment and Development. 

 

Authors: Philippine Sutz, Amaelle Seigneret, Mary Richard, Patricia Blankson Akapko, Fati Alhassan, Mamadou Fall

Abstract:

Pressures on land have been on the rise over the past two decades across subSaharan Africa, notably due to increasing commercial interests fuelled by global demand for agricultural commodities. In Tanzania, Ghana and Senegal, such pressures have exacerbated tenure insecurity for rural populations and resulted in numerous cases of dispossession and displacement.

In many cases, rural livelihoods are being undermined: increased competition and reduced access to land impact communities’ economic development, sometimes threatening food security, and bear significant impacts on wellbeing and sociocultural identities. Communities with fragile and exclusionary governance structures are more likely to lose out. Although important progress has been made in terms of legal empowerment – including women’s empowerment –, local land governance systems across the three countries studied remain weak and gender-discriminatory.

Vulnerable members – in particular women – often hold little to no control over land and are significantly under-represented in decision-making processes, although situations can vary across areas. As a result, they tend to be more severely affected by the impacts of commercial pressures on land.

This highlights a need to address exclusion and gender-discrimination in local level governance structures. The rationale underlining this idea is that increasing social cohesion and making decision-making arrangements more participative and gender-equitable will strengthen a community’s capacity to collectively discuss and deliberate on land-related matters.

This report focuses on initiatives that have been taking place in Tanzania, Ghana and Senegal since 2016, and that aim to reinforce governance structures to make them inclusive and gender-inclusive in response to the challenges aforementioned. The approaches they developed aim to support women in entering the political space and participate meaningfully in land governance. In Tanzania, where village authorities play a key role in local land governance, the Tanzania Women Lawyers Association (TAWLA) has been working with village councils across several districts to support the adoption of gender-sensitive village bylaws promoting more inclusive and participative land governance.

In Ghana, the Network for Women’s Rights (NETRIGHT) and the Grassroots Sisterhood Foundation (GSF) have overseen the establishment of local, gender sensitive governance committees in nine communities. These advise traditional authorities in land-related decision-making processes, reflecting a local context where customs play a key role in land management.

In Senegal where customary land tenure has been abolished and land management has been devolved to the municipal level, Innovation Environnement Développement en Afrique (IED Afrique) has piloted the reform of a local government body responsible for land management. The aim is to promote the inclusion and participation of women and the adoption of a local land charter.

The report presents each initiative and associated outcomes and lessons, and then reflects on their broader implications for the future of work on gender and land rights.

Topics: Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Governance, Land Grabbing, Rights, Land Rights, Security, Food Security Regions: Africa, East Africa, West Africa Countries: Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania

Year: 2019

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