Posts Tagged ‘Africa’

Spring 2016 Fellow: Gloria Jimwaga, Landesa

Ms. Gloria Jimwaga is currently completing a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellowship through Landesa, a Seattle-based land rights NGO and Hilton Prize Laureate. Gloria is pursuing her Master’s Degree in Rural Development and Natural Resources Management from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and also holds a degree from the University of Dar es Salaam. In this blog post, Gloria writes about her experiences as a Spring 2016 Fellow in Seattle through Landesa’s Center for Women’s Land Rights.

Advocating for Women’s Land Rights in Tanzania

by Gloria Jimwaga

My passion for women’s land rights began in 2010 when I began working for HAKIARDHI, The Land Rights Research & Resources Institute, a non-governmental organization that advocates for secure land rights in Tanzania. During my training, I visited a village in Kilindi, Tanzania, home to a patriarchal society where men have greater decision-making power than women. I asked a woman about the land that both she and her husband had owned for years. She replied, “What land? My husband’s land!” I asked her how she would define her land rights, and she said, “It belongs to my husband; if I’m to be divorced I would leave with the bags which I came with.” This conversation made me aware of some of the injustices that women face. I worked at HAKIARDHI for the next four years, driven to support land rights for women and communities.

Tanzania’s land ownership system is among the most progressive within Africa. Legally, Tanzanian women have the same rights as men to hold property and land. The challenge, however, is what happens in practice. In rural areas in Tanzania, women’s land rights are often insecure. Despite women being the drivers of agricultural production in Tanzania, they tend to be alienated and separated from their ownership of land compared to men.

The problem becomes even more complex when dealing with women’s inheritance practices. For example, many women, especially in rural areas, depend on access to land through a man—a father, brother, uncle, or husband. This can become complicated if the man dies, and the issue of inheritance is raised.

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(Women participate in land use plan process in Kidabaga, Iringa, Tanzania; photo credit HAKIARDHI)

Women are also too often left out of the household decision-making related to the income generated by their land. Although Tanzanian law protects a woman’s right to participate fully in household decisions, their rights are often circumvented by customary practices. As a woman myself, I would like to see to it that all women in my country have secure land rights that are protected within the legal system and implemented without gender discrimination.

The global food and oil crises have led to an increase of large-scale land investment in Africa. As agricultural investment continues to grow in Tanzania, my fear is that women’s land rights will continue to be swept under the rug, which will have devastating effects in the future.

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(Bioshape farm left unattended by investor at Mavuji Villlage Kilwa District, Tanzania; photo credit HAKIARDHI)

As a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow, I am working with Landesa through the Center for Women’s Land Rights. Landesa has a wealth of experience and knowledge on women’s land rights, and through my fellowship I am conducting research on large-scale land-based investment and its implications for women’s land rights in Tanzania. The research output will identify gender gaps as well as any successful models that exist for supporting women’s land rights, and will include recommendations and opportunities for future initiatives. The fellowship is a great way to learn how to incorporate gender relations within the issue of land rights.

There is an opportunity to further strengthen women’s land rights in Tanzania by addressing both legal and customary gaps. This can be done through legal reforms, research, community awareness building, strengthening of farmers’ associations and by improving the agricultural value chain so that women will be at an advantage. These interventions and strategies will support many women in the realization of their land rights by providing mechanisms to make these rights possible and retainable: Women will no longer state that their land “belongs to my husband only,” but instead will recognize and claim that land “belongs to both of us.”

Empowering Women through Collaboration

International Women’s Day, inaugurated in the early 1900s, celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year’s theme, #PledgeforParity, stems from the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Global Gender Gap Report, which states that the gender gap won’t close entirely until the year 2133. International Women’s Day has grown into a movement (#IWD2016) that brings men and women together annually on March 8th to discuss women’s achievements and the progress that still needs to be made.

Below we highlight three of the Hilton Prize Coalition member organizations working to advance women’s rights through their programs and partnerships around the world. Take a look at the ways these Coalition members celebrated International Women’s Day and collaborated with participants, activists and other local stakeholders in the field.

            1.   Amref Health Africa

Working in 7 countries across Africa, Amref Health Africa was awarded the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize in 1999. Their programs focus on HIV/AIDS, malaria, clean water and sanitation, surgical outreach, training of health professionals and family health. On International Women’s Day this year, Amref highlighted their partnerships surrounding issues like female genital mutilation (FGM), obstetric fistula and Ebola.

In 2014, Amref collaborated alongside Hilton Prize Coalition member Tostan in Senegal. The two organizations implemented the Zero Fistula Project, a holistic approach to effectively tackle the issue of obstetric fistula.

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(Zero Fistula Project implemented through the collaborative efforts of the Hilton Prize Coalition in Senegal)

            2.   BRAC

BRAC, the world’s largest NGO, won the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize in 2008, and is currently operating in 12 countries around the world on a variety of development projects. Their five primary initiatives include Empowerment, Economic Development and Social Protection, Expanding Horizons, Well-being and Resilience, and Support Programs. One of BRAC’s flagship programs empowers women through micro-finance, and has inspired many non-profits and NGOs to replicate this model in other parts of the world. For International Women’s Day, BRAC staff celebrated in Liberia, Pakistan, Sierra Leone and Tanzania, featuring their trainings and the role of men in the fight for gender equality.

BRAC is also participating in the Hilton Prize Coalition Storytelling Program that showcases six Coalition member organizations who mobilized in response to the 2015 Nepal earthquake and aftershocks.

            3.  Landesa

Landesa is the Hilton Prize Coalition’s newest member, winning the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize in 2015. The organization partners with governments, communities and other stakeholders to advance land rights’ reforms, specifically for women. Landesa’s initiatives are geographically focused in Africa, China and India. For International Women’s Day, the organization shared how its programs enhance women’s land rights impact food security, child marriage and financial stability.

This spring, Landesa is hosting a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow who will conduct research at its Center for Women’s Land Rights in Seattle.

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