There is broad global agreement that secure property rights help eradicate poverty and that securing women’s land rights reduces gender inequality.
By Marian Amissah-Ocran
First, Maame Kraba was diagnosed with HIV. Shortly thereafter, her husband died of the disease. For Maame, a young mother of two children living in Western Region, Ghana, her husband’s death marked an abrupt change in her family’s circumstances, one that would put her rights to land in jeopardy.
Last week the World Cocoa Foundation, a membership organization of more than 100 cocoa companies, held its annual partnership meeting in Berlin, Germany. The aim of the meeting is for governments, cocoa companies and farmers to identify and tackle the sector’s largest sustainability challenges. A 90-minute session was devoted to the topic of land tenure. The prominence of the session, as well as the seniority of the presenters – the Head of Sustainable Sourcing for Hershey’s and the Deputy Director General of Cote d’Ivoire’s Land Agency among them – is a powerful signaling effect.
The Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI) launched an Alumni Profile Series in which alumni of CCSI’s Executive Training on Sustainable Investments in Agriculture are interviewed about their career paths.
Much of the world’s rural landscapes are technically managed by national governments with limited recognition of, or support for, the rights and management responsibilities of the rural poor who live in these areas. In an era of large-scale land acquisitions for global commodity production, this has led, in some cases, to governments allocating vast tracts of land and resources to companies with limited or no consultation of the people affected.
In Ghana, land is an indispensable asset. It’s a source of livelihood and social identity, and men and women should have equal opportunities to benefit from it. But when entrenched patriarchy tips the power scales, and corruption reinforces cultural norms, the impact on women can be devastating.
A recent survey reveals that one in three Ghanaians have been asked to pay a bribe for land-related services in recent years. The study was done by the Ghana Integrity Initiative, the local chapter of Transparency International in Ghana.
In southern Ghana, women are connected to the land in different ways from one another. This diversity translates into a suite of vulnerabilities to climate change, and a need for fine-tuned strategies that accommodate the range of women in a community.