Published on March 18, 2014
Land, gender & environmental change Challenges of defeminisation or feminisation of agriculture Case of Sahelian countries
Rural Land, mother resource • Land : mother resource for family farming : livelihoods depending on access to land for men women and youth • Land is a complex resource : farmland, bush/commons, irrigated perimeters, with different values... • Land is a changing/ evolving resource, with a trend for growing scarcity in sub saharan Africa and especially Sahel
Land, an asset ? Women, an asset? • Traditional/ customary : land was not OWNED by men (mainly – cases of mammy queens in Sierra Leone) ; they were custodians, managers, from ancestors to the future generations ; land was sacred; now: a commodity • Women’s access was ruled by men according a principle of equity and availability ; they were “given” what they could farm ; as a result security was not depending on ownership
Climate & environmental change boost scarcity and upset the rules • A vicious circle started 40 years ago (the 70s droughts) and accelerated from 30 years on: • demographic growth (Niger 7.8 children per woman) + • restriction of rainfall agriculture space to south (droughts + practice) = hard competition on land, and more for irrigated land • Multiple and growing forms of land grabbing • Multiple changes in the environment : global economy, religions, commoditisation of land insecurity, policies, legislation, technologies
Gender and land grabbings: growing risks of exclusion • Female farmers & land: mother resource for accumulation of assets; nearly no alternatives • External (international) land grabbing more and more known, but few research and data on gender impacts (is women only labour force a problem ? • National /local grabbing (well off urban, military, politicians, traders vs poor farmers, less vulnerable farmers vs poorer : idem • Ignored or denied : land grabbing inside the household : men vs women ; gender war...
Assets and rights are not static: an entry point for gender • Access to land was a right for women and a duty/requirement for men to ensure it • Scarcity, greediness, religions of the Book (christianity, Islam) have changed the rules • Challenge is : who says the law, the rights ? Women, youth, allochtones are confronted to 3 systems of law : customary, religious, statutory
Right based approach: yes but which rights for women? • Tectonic of the 3 systems of law often detrimental to women and not knowing people (definition of poverty= rights always denied against a rich) • Religion: (Islam here) ambiguous use or instrumentation by men vs women’s vigilence – Seclusion from fields, confinement at home, forced field rest : justification for women’s land grabbing inside HH and growing conflictual gender relations – Women claim their heritage, including land : unequal (50% or less) but effective and ensuring ownership / control; • From religion to statutory law : women go to justice to claim their religion-based rights to land
Policies, donors, legislation : challenge : implementation • Slowly growing interest for gender issues in land legislation, but many biases & myths: • Ownership & title as the panacea to secure land as an asset(WB) : for whom ? For which type of women ? Which type ofland (irrigated?) Is gender to support the less vulnerable (this not visible in data/statistics) • Equality is assessed in constitution and statutory law, including land (Code rural) but implementation is far away from this • New institutions are hardly a gender friendly environment (quotas of 10% in land commissions)
Beyond land : survival, welfare, security, power ??? • Land: basis for w’s accumulation: field -goat-sheep- cow-savings & credit-other assets-field-redistribution to daughters and sons • Narrow link between defeminisation of agriculture and feminisation of poverty : case of Haïti, Niger, Sahel and exposure to disaster risks (Haïti, a forgotten issue as well) but ; research and accurate data cruelly missing • Narrow link between w’s status and access to and assets : see “femmes jardin” in Haïti, landless women/ hopeless women in Niger • Narrow link with food security : gender and food sovereignty not enough explored : research, data
Strategies : coping-immediate-poor vs sustainable - resilience • The landless (women & men) and the poorest are cornered and may accelerate environmental degradation • Individual strategies and collective strategies: agency/empowerment for land : womens groups & associations, traditional or modern, new farmers’ organisations (men & women), new alliances of landless or poor rural : case of IFETE: gender as an eye opener, booster of initiatives and added value
Innovative solutions • Gender fatigue ? Donors’fatigue ? Gender sceptics, gender blockers ? Do not cry, be bold • Transformation /changes at local level : from women seen as an asset by husbands, mothers in law and families, to new generation, new couples, new visions : build on this • New organisational dynamics, female only or mixed, up to rural trade unions • New technologies, cell phones, smart phones, web: this is not to morrow, it is to day
Gender & IIED • Build on IIED strong points (see Strategy) and “engender” them for added value and not constraint (cf. Land tenure, differential vulnerability to CC & DDR, pastoralism etc.) • Partnership is viewed as a strong point : build on this for a gender/environment/CC networking with priority to southern voices • Agenda of research, designing datas to be produced, sex disaggregated, interpreted through gender analysis and perspectives, in relation to domains above : produce evidence to influence policies and donors • Address language and geographic barriers : diversity of souths, sharing experiences between anglophone, hispano- lusophone and francophone countries : web, newsletter, briefing, workshops ..
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