ActionAid Ghana sponsors women to Mount Kilimanjaro for land rights campaign
On Saturday October 15, 2016, four (4) Ghanaian women from ActionAid Ghana sponsored communities will join hundreds of other African women for a gathering at Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, to call for their rights to land and productive resources.
ActionAid is one of the organisations standing with the women in what is expected to be the largest rural women’s land rights assembly ever seen at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro.
The Ghanaian women joining the campaign in Tanzania are Alia Mumuni, a project officer from ActionAid Ghana in Tamale, Doris Owusu Prempeh a teacher and farmer from Dokyikrom in the Brong Ahafo region, Pascaline Bepulle and Faustina Lariba Yenzie, smallholder farmers from Upper West and Upper East regions respectively.
They will join more than 400 others from 21 countries across Africa for the convention in the town of Moshi between 14 and 16 October and they will produce a charter of demands for fair and equal land rights to be presented to the United Nations and the African Union.
In addition to the women at the assembly, a small number of the women, in a show of strength and conviction, will climb to the peak of Mountain Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain at 5,895 metres, with the assistance of expert guides from Intrepid Travels.
Many of the women have first-hand experience of the unjust practices linked to unequal land rights in Africa, including forced evictions by big business, pollution, and being subject to unfair inheritance practices.
Margaret Brew-Ward, Advocacy and Campaign’s Manager at ActionAid Ghana, said:
“Women are moving mountains every single day as smallholder farmers, caregivers, widows, and mothers, but they rarely enjoy their own rights as human beings including having control over the land they depend on. They are excluded from inheriting lands owned by their families or booted out of their lands when their husbands pass away. They do not have access to fertile lands, which is crucial for crop production or are given lands in remote areas, requiring them to walk many hours to their farms.”
The assembly comes during the African Union’s year-long focus on the “Rights of Women” in 2016. Despite commitments made by the African Union and its member states, including Ghana, real progress for women living without the basic right of land is slow.
“The women gathering at Mount Kilimanjaro are saying ‘enough is enough’, we cannot continue to build our nations when our lands are wrongfully given to an old uncle or our ex-husband’s brother for inheritance, or when we are given the worst unproductive lands to farm and cater for our children.”
As the first mission objective in our current Country Strategy Paper (CSP V), ActionAid Ghana has been working to promote Climate Resilient Sustainable Agriculture (CRSA) and ensure that women secure access to and control over land and other productive resources. We have successfully campaigned to secure lands for many smallholder women farmers in some of our working communities, particularly in the Upper East and Upper West regions.
Research conducted by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation FAO) (see Note 1 below) suggests that less than one quarter of agricultural land in developing countries is controlled by women and low female access and control of land significantly obstructs access to financial assets.
Through decades of work on land rights in Africa, ActionAid and partners’ evidence (see Note 2 below) shows having secure access to land empowers women, both individually and collectively, and has a knock-on effect of advancing women’s access to other human rights. Women with secure access and control over land also frequently state they have increased decision making and improved social standing within their households and communities.
The convention will bring together women from Senegal, Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Burkina Faso, Benin, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, South Africa, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.
The three-day forum will be an opportunity for attendees to share experiences on identifying and addressing key barriers to women’s land rights such as early marriage, poor access to information and unfair inheritance practices. At the forum’s close, the women will produce a charter of demands for fair and equal land rights to be presented to the United Nations and the African Union.
Notes to Editors:
1. The FAO is available at http://www.fao.org/economic/es-policybriefs/multimedia0/female-land-ownership/en/
2. The ActionAid evidence cited above is in our report From marginalisation to empowerment: http://actionaid.org/publications/marginalisation-empowerment
Media contact / Interviews:
1. Benjamin Kwesi Tawiah, Communications and Public Relations Manager, ActionAid Ghana. Email: Benjamin.Tawiah@actionaid.org, Tel: 0507712476
2. Margaret Brew-Ward, Advocacy and Campaigns Manager, ActionAid Ghana. Email: Margaret.Brew-Ward@actionaid.org, Tel: 0208171563