Land has profound meaning to all people. It represents ‘home’ and cultural values, political power and participation in decision making processes; it can provide services for living such as food production and clean water and shelter and it can be used as an economic asset for income generation, as collateral for credit and as a means of holding savings for the future. Though women contribute to almost half of the world’s agricultural production, a mere 15% of these women have legal rights to the land that they work on. Bridging this gap and working towards gender equality has tremendous potential for more sustainable food production and nutrition security, private sector development and stable regions.
It can be no surprise therefore that women’s rights and gender equality are a priority in the LAND-at-scale programme. To discuss how LAND-at-scale’s gender strategy is shaped, we have interviewed our colleague Maaike van den Berg, RVO project advisor and gender focal point.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your involvement in the LAND-at-scale programme?
“I am Maaike van den Berg, and besides project advisor in the LAND-at-scale team at RVO, I am also the gender focal point for our programme. This means that I look into how gender is integrated in all of the LAND-at-scale projects, and see where and how we can learn from each other. I believe women and men deserve the same opportunities and rights, and with the LAND-at-scale program we are working towards strengthening the position and capacity of both women and men in order to achieve more equal tenure security.”
Since the beginning of the LAND-at-scale programme, gender was identified as an important cross-cutting topic. What does this mean in practice, and how is it observed in the development of the portfolio?
“In almost all LAND-at-scale projects, an extensive gender analysis is part of the inception phase, as well as consultations with women groups and working together with local grassroots organizations to ensure the voice of women is heard in the design phase of the projects. There is a focus on capacity building, not just for women but also for men, especially in context of customary land ownership. The foundation for the projects’ gender strategies is laid in the inception phase, and will be further developed by continuous monitoring and evaluation.”
There has been a lot of research and a lot of experiences in the land governance sector to improving women’s access to land. To what extent does LAND-at-scale take new approaches?
“What we are doing within the LAND-at-scale programme is not new of course: there have been many other organizations and actors working on strengthening of the position of women regarding tenure security, with whom we are trying to work together as much as possible. Also we are working with a consortium of knowledge management partners, who ensure that the lessons learned on gender are shared between the projects and with the boarder land governance community. One of the strengths of LAND-at-scale is that the projects are building bridges between national developments, for instance by contributing to making policy and laws more inclusive and gender sensitive, and developments on the ground, by sensibilization trainings and promoting women groups land rights. By connecting experience from the ground to policy processes, the projects contribute to improving the position of women both from a legal perspective, and in practice.
Women’s right to land is central to their economic empowerment and as a basis for food production and income generation. Although there is a world to gain regarding an equal position for women in access to land, it is essential in order to increase women’s negotiation power and agency. I am proud of what the LAND-at-scale implementing organizations are trying to achieve, and look forward to sharing our lessons learned on gender with the broader land governance community.”
The LAND-at-scale programme is funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and managed by the Netherlands Enterprise and Development Agency (RVO). Read more about LAND-at-scale here or sign up for our quarterly newsletter.