Realising Ethiopian Women’s Rights to Land | Land Portal
Sefanit Minwuyelet
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Partnership vested to address land as a right, not a need

Securing women’s land rights ensures women’s access to land and improved livelihoods for their families and communities. As fundamental human rights, land rights support food security, address poverty, provide a basis for climate actions and promote long-term equitable economic growth. However, certain factors hinder the realisation of these rights, including a lack of basic legal awareness and limited social freedoms in rural societies where traditional values are often prejudicial to women and girls as smallholder farmers.

While the Ethiopian Constitution and federal and regional rural land laws grant equal rights to women to acquire, use, and transfer land, conservative social customs and norms often act negatively to restrict these.  Customary attitudes typically do not favour female landowners or farmers, which, together with unawareness of their rights under the existing legal frameworks, continues to marginalise women and girls.

To address these barriers, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), is supporting gender-equal land rights by engaging with national partners, civil society, and rural communities. The GIZ’s land projects in the climate cluster work in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity Ethiopia’s project Stand for Her Land (S4HL) and with the Women Land Rights Task Force (WLRTF) to improve women’s access to their rights.

The S4HL project, supported by a BMZ grant, facilitates collaboration among key policymakers, rural communities, and non-state actors to promote and secure land rights. The WLRTF task force, formed in February 2015 and composed of governmental and non-governmental institutions, focuses on women’s land rights to develop a gender responsive land policy and supporting legislation in Ethiopia.


Forming a partnership and finding junctures for collaboration

During a partnership formulation workshop between S4HL and WLRTF, it was acknowledged that alignment of resources and effort will bring mutual benefit to all the parties involved and enable a bigger impact on women’s land rights. GIZ’s land projects in Ethiopia will benefit from the work of the S4HL campaign, while the S4HL/WLRTF coalition will benefit from GIZ’s strong presence, infrastructure, and networks at all levels in the country.

The partnership acknowledges five geographic locations (Amhara, Benishangul Gumuz, Gambela, Oromia, and Sidama Regional States) and addresses four major socio-economic contexts of women:

  1. Women in small-holding and subsistence farming communities,
  2. Women in areas of large-scale agricultural investments,
  3. Women in urban and peri-urban settings, and
  4. Women in pastoral communities

The Global Advocacy Director for the S4HL campaign, Ms. Esther Mwaura-Muiru, noted, “We cannot meet women’s equality until we secure women’s rights; hence, we need to come together to secure women’s land rights and make the issue a priority. The director further stated that women’s access to, use of, and control over land and other productive resources is essential to ensuring their equal and adequate standard of living.

Ms. Yalemzewid Demssie of the WLRTF stated, “Currently, there are no local women’s groups outside of the state system working on policy issues related to women’s land rights”, pointing out why the taskforce is key to addressing restrictive barriers.

Building a common vision and signing an MOU

Awareness creation is essential to educating and informing the public and requires a coalition of partners sharing the goal and vision of gender equality. The two parties will urge the government to drive participatory and timely policymaking, share their research-derived information, and generate new data when necessary.

GIZ’s land projects, Habitat for Humanity Ethiopia’s S4HL Project, and the Women's Land Rights Task Force under the Ministry of Agriculture have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding, to collaborate on securing land rights for women in Ethiopia. Through this partnership, the parties envision Ethiopian women fully exercising and enjoying their rights to land, housing, and property. The three stakeholders clarified their expectations, roles, responsibilities, and scope of the cooperation concerning land and property rights for women in Ethiopia.


About GIZ-implemented land projects in Ethiopia

Three GIZ-implemented projects are working in the land sector to address fundamental and core issues related to land governance, policy, and human rights matters. Participatory and Integrated Land Use Planning (PILUP II) aims to improve the institutional and regulatory framework for spatial and integrated land use planning. Support to Responsible Agricultural Investment (S2RAI II) supports partner organisations, enhances knowledge and skills in managing land and making responsible agricultural investments. Land Governance (LaGo II) follows a multi-level process by engaging local authorities and communities in the planning, reallocating, and registering of land parcels to achieve participatory land consolidation as well as promoting economic efficiency and productivity.

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