11/2016. Women proclaim a charter of principles & demands during the Kilimanjaro initiative on women land rights

BY MARILYN KABALERE, Advocacy Officer On 16th October 2016, women from all over Africa gathered in Tanzania to discuss and make demands for their land rights in what was termed as the Kirimanjaro Initiative on Women Land Rights. The women proclaimed a charter of principles and demands specifically on women’s access to, control, ownership, inheritance and disposal of land and natural resources. The Charter highlighted very clear demands to National Governments which include the need for;

Women hand over their demands to the representative from the African Union

  • Sensitization of leaders, (traditional, community, and religious and others), youth, people with disabilities, and women on the law and policies on land.
  • Women empowerment by enabling them to access their land rights, technology, and financial resources to improve their livelihoods.
  • Translate the land policies and laws into accessible local languages.
  • Sex disaggregated digital inventory of tenure rights within public, community, and private lands so that all land is identified, recorded, and made public for safeguarding.
  • 50% participation of women in decision making bodies and implementation of land issues and matters (including in the valuation of land and payment of compensation for natural resources) so that they can speak and defend their land rights.
  • Governments should regulate businesses and investors that pollute the environment and adversely affect the environment and the health of communities, especially women and children.
  • Governments should avoid land based investments which forcefully displace rural communities, particularly women and children.
  • Women and communities must have a say on who and what kind of investment and companies invest in their communities. The investor must be obliged to provide information about the impacts of their investment on the communities.
  • Investments on land should be done in partnership with communities, governments, and investors. There must be a 40% minimum share in the profits and environmental protection.
  • People living with disabilities and other vulnerable groups (people living with HIV/AIDs, widows) must be taken into account in all land matters. These people must be represented in all decision-making bodies and involved in the implementation process.
  • Pastoral lands must be recognized and protected by law and other mechanisms.
  • Ban harmful and oppressive cultural practices that undermine women’s rights including those that prohibit women from inheriting land and other recourses.
  • Government should enact laws to provide security and protection of women’s rights defenders.
  • Stop persistent farmer – pastoralist conflicts over the use of land and other resources.
  • Enact inheritance laws to provide and safeguard women’s land rights where they do not exist.
Recommendations to the Governments, donors, and Regional Blocks
  • Civic education on the land laws so that women understand land laws and their rights. This should include promotion of adult education particularly in rural areas.
  • Review, harmonize and update land laws to reflect women’s rights on land.
  • Engage governments in the Kilimanjaro initiative for them to support women’s land rights.
  • Involve youth in land issues. They should also have representation in decision-making bodies.
  • Joint and equal ownership of land through joint land title deeds.
  • Include women in customary land governance structures.
  • Ensure customary laws are consistent with constitutional and statutory safeguards for women’s land rights.
  • Land laws and policies should be translated and made available to communities in accessible local languages.
  • Mobilize and build women’s movements in support of women’s land rights e.g. the Kilimanjaro initiative and popularize their demands and solutions.
  • Educate and mobilize custodians of culture to become champions of women’s land rights.
  • Create an African network of women’s rights defenders.
  • Recognize and facilitate the work of women’s rights defenders.
  • Implement the AU’s recommendation that requires states to allocate at least 30% of land to women.
  • Improve land rights of women through legislative and other mechanisms.
  • Establish gender-responsive property rights framework beyond land laws by reforming marital property law, succession (inheritance law, etc).
  • Identify and protect farming and grazing areas to stop conflicts pitting pastoralists and farmers.


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