Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA)

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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

 

 

On the 27th of February 2013 the AMwA launched her feminist research report on oil and gas An In-depth Research on Oil & Gas Extraction Industry in East Africa: An African Feminist Perspective. The Report that highlights women's participation and contribution to the Oil & Gas Sector was launched by the State Minister for Mineral Development Uganda, Hon. Peter Lokeris.

During her opening remarks, the Interim Executive Director, AMwA Dr. Maggie Kigozi who also seats on AMwA Board emphasized the need for civil society organizations to economically empower women in order to benefit from this sector. 

Indeed Extractive Industries have positive and negative effects and women and men experience these impacts differently. While highlighting key aspects of the Report Ms. Winifred Ngabirwe, Executive Director Global Rights Alert challenged stakeholders when she raised the following issues;

a)     Need for more research on why a small percentage of women are in EI

b)     The mining policies are not informed by all the sectors that include among other, women, project affected communities, and CSOs

c)      Not many Executives are in the mining industries  and there are no statistics available on the number of women in the sector, how do we ensure that all the segments of the society are represented and contribute effectively

d)     How have women participated in the formulation of laws and policies; who is at the table when  men are planning for social corporate responsibility

She further advisedCSOs and in particular AMwA on some of the areas of advocacy that included;

a)     Need for transparency and availability  of information

b)     Ensure the laws formulated on the sector are gender sensitive and implemented

c)      Lobby for the recognition of women as stakeholders in the sector

d)     Inclusion of women in all consultation processes  and social economic mappings

e)     Expand Dialogue

f)      Strengthen women's leadership capacities

g)     Monitoring and auditing of the sector

Her presentation was also strengthened by a presentation made by Ms. Irene Kagoya, Communications & Advocacy Officer AMwA who specifically focused on the legal frameworks on the sector from the East African Region, stating that we have very progressive laws however the problem that remains is the lack of implementation and or removal of structural barriers to gender equality

In commenting on the report in a Panel Discussion with the different stakeholders (Government CSOs and private Sector) the Commissioner Mr. Ernest Rubondo congratulated AMwA on this very unique report stating that it was balanced, and brings the East Africa Region into perspective. "It is realistic and highlights recommendations for everyone in the community to address." He further stated that Local administration have emphasized on women's participation especially their involvement in community meetings.  He emphasized the need to understand the value chain; he stressed that the sector employs women however their participation is still low. He thus called for more training, skills development and supporting those women who are already in the sector including those involved in doing casual jobs in the drilling communities.

Speaking on behalf of the private sector Mr. Kyalimpa Joseph from UMA shared UMA's programmes on skills development and their experience on affirmative action. These are programs designed to improve skills of local manufacturers. He also stressed the fact that the sector patterns with high institutions of learning especially to provide internship placements; and 30% of the interns should be women.

This was followed by a Q and A session that further enhanced the discussions on how to engage women in the oil and gas sectors ensure that women truly benefit from the sector.

Ms.Vivian B. Ngonzi then shared of highlights actions undertaken by AMwA in response to the research and proposed action steps moving that included the strengthening of women's leadership capacities through the African Women's Leadership Institute.

As the meeting drew to a close the Hon. Minister was invited to officially launch the report. In his remarks the Minister emphasized the need for skills development as he shared Uganda's commitment to enhancing citizen's skills in the industry.

 True the venture into the economic sphere of women's leadership has not been AMwA's strategic focus in past however as we continue to interface with the emerging social economic sphere, AMwA firmly believes that we need to support women's leadership through all the various sectors.