Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA)

Feminist Leadership Development

UNITED NATIONS—The Women’s Major Group, representing more than 600 women’s groups from over 100 countries, is deeply disappointed with the outcome of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last week. What came out of the conference, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, is the world’s plan for implementing and financing global development. While the Action Agenda is being heralded by many governments as a strong outcome for women and girls, it fails to address profound inequalities in economic policies and institutions that undermine human rights and gender equality.

 The Action Agenda is not in accordance with the demands of developing countries, and if implemented, is unlikely to improve the lives of the world’s poorest women and girls or facilitate sustainable development. In fact, the plan endangers the success of the Sustainable Development Goals—which are to be adopted by UN member states this September.

 One of the biggest disappointments was around international tax cooperation; developed countries rejected a proposal by developing countries for a global tax body that would have curbed illicit financial flows by multinational corporations and allowed poorer countries to increase their revenues. Under the current tax structure, developing countries lose up to 10 times as much money in illicit financial flows as they get in aid.

 Further, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda fails to:

  • Advance solutions to developing countries’ debt crises, continuing to jeopardize the human rights of women and girls worldwide who bear the burden of harsh austerity measures and debt repayments.
  • Address systemic imbalances in the global financial system or advance a new paradigm for democratic economic governance. Women continue to act as shock absorbers and stabilisers during financial crises.
  • Regulate the role of the private sector through binding frameworks that align their actions with human rights and sustainable development objectives and hold corporations accountable for violations of human rights and gender equality.
  • Ensure that trade and investment agreements do not undermine policies intended to uphold human rights and provide decent work consistent with international labor standards.

“The new global development agenda is being described as transformative, but we can’t expect change if it’s business as usual,” said Tessa Khan, international human rights lawyer with Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development. “What’s needed is a more equitable global economic and development system—one that protects, respects, and fulfils human rights.”

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On June 23, Activists Say: “No Sustainable Development Without Equality”

UNITED NATIONS—Governments are meeting this week to negotiate a political declaration for the UN Summit to adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The Women’s Major Group, representing more than 600 women’s groups from over 100 countries, is calling on governments to commit to a transformative agenda to ensure just, sustainable, and rights-based development.

Sixty members of the Women’s Major Group from every region of the world are attending the negotiations to hold government leaders accountable. The Women’s Major Group has released “10 Red Flags” to highlight areas that need to be strengthened to achieve the transformative agenda necessary to eradicate poverty and address the fundamental inequalities between people and inequities between countries.

On June 23, 1:15-2:30p.m. EDT, the Women’s Major Group will hold an official side event at the UN to launch the Red Flags: No Sustainable Development Without Equality (UN Conference Room B) and kick off the #WhatWomenWant campaign.

As part of the Red Flags, the Women’s Major Group is calling for gender equality and the full realization of the human rights of women and girls to be emphasized throughout the political declaration. Women and girls comprise the majority of people living in poverty and bear a disproportionate burden of the impacts of financial and environmental crises. Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls of all ages is essential for sustainable development.

Feminist and women’s organizations have been central actors in defining the Post-2015 Development Agenda and will be crucial for its implementation. Throughout this week’s negotiations, women’s groups will continue to push for an ambitious outcome that will set the path for the UN Summit in September.

Activists from around the world will hold a Twitter rally from 9-10:00 a.m. EDT during negotiations June 23-25. Follow the conversation using #Post2015 #WhatWomenWant

vDownload the 10 Red Flags.

Learn more about the Women’s Major Group: http://www.womenmajorgroup.org/

With the rising phenomenon of land acquisitions in Sub-Saharan Africa and it’s impact on marginalized communities especially women; it is inevitable that Feminist Organizations are alert to this development considering that it’s happening at a time when women’s access, control and ownership of land rights are yet to be realized.

Hon. Rosemary Najjemba launching the ReportA wide range of research has been conducted on large scale land deals however not much of it has focused on the feminist perspective of these deals. Therefore the launch of the Research Report Large Scale Land Deals in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Importance of Feminist Engagement” by Akina Mama wa Afrika is timely and makes case for feminist research on land grabs and need for alternative policy models that are premised on gender, law and development approaches.

The Report launched on the 2nd of June 2015, at Golf Course Hotel in Kampala, highlights the nature and extent of land grabbing phenomenon in Sub-Saharan Africa and how it impacts on women. It examines the drivers of land acquisition, contractual arrangements underpinning them and their effects on local populations from a feminist perspective. It further provides for measures and recommendations to Governments, CSOs, and Private Sectors in protecting women’s land rights in land dealings.

While launching the Report Hon. Rosemary Najjemba, State Minister for Urban Planning, Uganda commended AMwA’s work. She emphasized the need to protect women’s land rights stating that when women’s land rights are violated then we deny the population life. And yet when women’s land rights are protected their homes are stable, violence against women would come down, and their livelihoods are improved. Calling for continued dialogue and debates on land grabs, the Hon. Minister urged different stakeholders to incorporate women’s rights in laws and policies. She invited CSOs to work with relevant government Ministries and stakeholders in addressing the issues of women’s land rights.

The same Forum brought together different representatives from CSOs, Private Sector and Government particularly in Uganda who shared their perspectives on the Report as well as experiences on large scale land acquisitions.

Julian Adeyeri Omalla commonly known as “Mama Cheers” highlighted the plight of rural women and their vulnerability. “Women work like donkeys & have no rights”; majority have no land titles, lack economic decisions over income, and yet cultural practices and tradition continue to undermine their rights to land. Sharing her experience she stated that she did not inherit land from her father but was lucky to receive 4 acres of land from her father in-law. Indeed she is one of the very few women who own land with in different regions of the country including 1,200 hectares in Northern Uganda. She urged government to find proper means of compensating women. As a local investor she shared best practices on how she supports women through the out growers scheme with 1000 out growers having secured 88,000 mango seedlings from National Agricultural Advisory Services(NAADS) that they have distributed to women to grow. She further called on the elites to advocate for the land rights of women and urged women who can afford to purchase and own land.

Alluding to problems faced by women as shared by Anna Amali from Apac Northern Uganda who has been struggling to retain her land from her in-laws, Rebecca Apio of Uganda Land Alliance passionately narrated the ordeal women interface in trying to protect their land. To the extent that they have had to drop legitimate cases because the women had given up on litigation processes citing its tedious nature given their responsibilities in the household. She stated that 99% of the land in Northern Uganda is not registered which is one of the problems of land in APaa in Northern Uganda where women recently led a stripped demonstration following government’s move to demarcate the land. She cited the technicalities in registering land and underscored the need to register land for security of land tenure, including registration of women. She urged private practitioners to seriously embrace the issues of advancing women’s rights in litigation processes. And called on feminist organizations to build the women’s leadership capacities to effectively engage in land administrative structures as well as processes right from grassroots.

Speaking from the government’s perspective; Mr. Godfrey Semakula of Uganda Investment Authority candidly described the processes of allotting land to investors as being transparent. Stating that government takes due diligence to ensure that land does not have any form of encumbrances before selling it to the investor.  In defending the investors, Mr. Godfrey stated that nuclear estates help to empower small farmers including women who can then sell their products to the investors. He was particularly concerned about women owning land, stating that this is a cultural problem that requires a complete mind shift especially of cultural leaders and women right from the early age. On the concerns of costs and corruption in registration of land titles, he stated that “it takes two to entangle”, the land office is transparent and that it is lawyers who are making it expensive charging fees that are four times the fees charged by government for land Registration.

Adding her voice to the many in the room Ms. Racheal Sebudde, of World Bank shared about the joint ownership initiative by World Bank in which they are encouraging joint ownership of land titles to protect women’s land rights. She further stated that World Bank endeavors to see to it that a balance is created between need for development and interests of local communities.

Women have been defined as the backbone of agriculture making up to 80% of the agricultural labor force; it’s crucial that strategies are devised to address the risks women face in the context of this new wave of “land grabbing” Therefore we are challenged to;

  1. Continuously research and document women’s experiences on large scale land deals so that we are able to reveal the underlying yet critical issues of women’s land rights that are often given little or no attention
  2. Strategically position women in spheres of influence and ensure that women are being placed at the center of laws, policies and development
  3. Build women’s leadership capacities at different levels of leadership so that they are able to meaningfully engage in processes of land deals and advocate for the rights of women in cases of violation of women’s land rights
  4. Encourage investors and corporations to recognize the social cultural and productive roles of rural women and take deliberate efforts to engage the rural women directly to be able to fully appreciate their position and approaches to protect their interests.

The full Report “Large Scale Land Deals in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Importance of Feminist Engagement” can be accessed here