Akina Mama wa Afrika in partnership with women’s movements in Malawi, Swaziland and Zambia with support from the Commonwealth Foundation sought to contribute to securing women’s land rights in the wake of large scale land acquisitions in Africa. The intervention focused on strengthening feminist and transformational leadership capacities and enhancing feminist research skills to promote documentation of women’s lived realities. In that regard, the project commissioned three feminist researches on the gendered implications of large scale land acquisitions which was led by Women’s Land Rights Movement in Malawi which is a network established in 2016 to advocate for the protection of women’s land rights, NGOCC in Zambia, and Doo Aphane an independent feminist consultant in Swaziland with the aim of promoting evidence- based advocacy to effectively influence decision makers. In August, the research was launched in the three countries of Zambia, Malawi and Swaziland coupled with dialogues with different stakeholders including representatives from the Ministry of Gender, Ministry of Culture and Traditional Chiefs, Civil Society Representatives and Women’s Land Rights coalition members on the findings of the study.
Based on the feminist researches government and traditional leaders were ushered and pressured to address the gaps and challenges that remain in order to ensure women’s land rights are respected and enshrined in the national laws and policies . As discovered during the study, even where there are laws and policies in place that are seeking to level out imbalance and injustice between men and women, these are not enough to ensure that this is translated on the ground. Government and traditional leaders were therefore held accountable to address the issue of low participation of women in decision-making processes when it comes to land. The dialogues also brought out crucial testimonies of how women are experiencing sexual violence when they seek justice and recognition for land. Cases of how chiefs demand sexual favours in order to process the women’s requests to get their land rights guaranteed were also reported.
In Zambia where 90% of land is customary, traditional leaders were called upon to provide women with more access to land. The governments were also asked to ensure that land is more accessible to women through revision of legislations and law enforcement and to develop clear guidelines for traditional leaders to follow when allocating land for large scale investment especially to foreigners. Governments were also tasked to explain the status of victims of land evictions and therefore promised to produce a report in that regard, and prioritise girl child education as well.
In collaboration with Swaziland women’s land coalition the Swaziland Women’s Land Coalition and the Ministry of Gender pledged to develop a work plan that will address the gaps highlighted in the report. Priority will be given to the national dialogue, allocation of resources for capacity building among others. The Titling of Deeds pledged to strengthen the working relationship with CSOs and engage them during the review of the laws and policies while the Chair of the land Board committed to investigate some of the violations in relation to land eviction that was raised by one of the female victims.
Find the full report here