Indigenous and local community women play crucial roles as household and forest managers, food providers, and leaders of rural enterprises—and make invaluable contributions toward global sustainable development and climate goals. The evidence is clear that securing their rights to community lands offers a promising path toward prosperity and sustainability in the forested and rural areas of the world. Yet these rights remain constrained by unjust laws and practices, and the voices of these women are consistently underrepresented in decision-making processes at all levels.
The ‘age of ignorance’
For a long time land governance, land tenure and land rights remained in the ‘age of ignorance’. We have known for some time that land governance is a key ingredient for social, economic and environmental development; what was missing, however, was the data. With the little information available to us at the time, we set priorities and crafted interventions for our course of work. Relying on a few rough figures meant that we were often repeating mantras and slogans based on loose, rather than on hard and reliable facts. Most notable among these was the often repeated and now widely disputed, “women own 2% of the world’s land”.
Across the globe, indigenous and rural women make invaluable contributions to their communities and toward global sustainable development and climate goals. They use, manage, and conserve the community territories that comprise over 50 percent of the world’s land and support up to 2.5 billion people.
By Chris Hufstader
After an audacious land grab by a foreign company, indigenous women in a remote Cambodian village struggle to regain their farms and sacred sites.
Sol Preng remembers vividly the day in 2012 when bulldozers unexpectedly arrived on her family farm.
“The company came and cleared away our cashew trees right before the harvest,” she says. “I lost four hectares of land and all my cashew trees.”
By Deborah Espinosa and Patrick Gallagher, USAID’s Land Technology Solutions Program
Persistent and pervasive gender inequality is a global development challenge that constrains economic growth, educational opportunities, and health outcomes. It jeopardizes food security and undermines poverty reduction strategies. The world over, some formal and many informal laws and customs operate to hinder women’s empowerment and thus their full potential as agents of economic and social change.
Over the last 2 years, a bottom-up SDGs monitoring process has been developing in the municipalities of Caruaru and Bonito to give women tenure security.
Caruaru and Bonito are located in the semi-arid region of Pernambuco state in northeast Brazil, where grassroots women have been supported by Espaço Feminista,a civil society organization dedicated to women’s economic and political empowerment through public policies.
On March 27, 2019, the Research Consortium hosted a happy hour at the 2019 World Bank Land and Poverty Conference. The event attracted a mix of attendees from the conference, including leaders in the field of land rights and land tenure security.
This week, more than 1,500 development professionals from around the world are gathering at the World Bank’s annual Land and Poverty Conference, discussing the latest research and innovations in policies and good practice on land governance.
I recently traveled to the highlands of Peru. Every woman I met there seemed to be doing something with wool: spinning it, or knitting or crocheting skirts, sweaters, and scarves. I was fascinated by the activity, as a sometimes knitter myself, but when I asked to take pictures of them they reacted with confusion at my interest. In their minds, they were not doing anything remarkable or picture worthy, just the daily work they needed to get done.