Gendering Land Tools Roundtable
Global Land Tool Network
The round-table discussions were chaired by Dr. Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister of Housing, South Africa.
The round table was held a day after the launch of the Global Land Tool Network. Public-sector, private-sector and civil-society partners engaged in a detailed discussion on a draft gender framework aimed at supporting strategies that the new network could use to enhance women’s rights and security of tenure. Features built into the mechanism were a multi-stakeholder approach anchored in a process led by women themselves.
Mrs. Tibaijuka informed the participants that access to land by women had declined in recent decades. It was important therefore to transform “paper rights” into real political, economic and social rights for women: the principles must be translated into action. The new Global Land Tool Network must have a clear road map, backed up by agreement among partners on its priorities and real commitment by all stakeholders to real change.
Participants agreed that the obstacles confronting women on land ownership, secure land tenure and access to adequate housing must be addressed systematically. The complex social, political and economic structures which land tenure entailed, however, made it difficult to transfer models and tools without clear guidelines. It was noted that legal frameworks on land tenure and land ownership varied considerably in national constitutions and legislation around the world, making general applications of new frameworks difficult.
Structures guiding land and housing inheritance in many societies were mentioned as obstacles which obstructed the realization of women’s rights. In addition, discriminatory practices hampering the realization of women’s rights were often rooted in assumptions on gender, geographical location (such as discrimination against rural women), and culture (especially unequal treatment of indigenous groups). Several speakers said that international declarations on human rights were largely underutilized at the national and subnational level; often they were not applied because individuals had poor or insufficient knowledge of them. That involved not only women being unaware of their rights, but also weak political will by governments at various levels, a problem mentioned by many speakers.
The obstacles faced by women in realizing their rights to access land and housing had been identified, by and large, by the global community. Participants felt that dialogue among partners must continue to ensure that that information was shared and that successful tools were used. They agreed that the new network’s gender mechanism should be adopted and suggested a pilot study in Rwanda. The secretariat of the Global Land Tool Network urged them to provide regular reports on progress and implementation through its website. It was agreed to review progress in 2008 at the Fourth Session of the World Urban Forum.