Gender and Land Rights Phase II Project to highlight and support initiatives that enhance rural women’s participation in land related decisions has yielded results at Nanton in the Northern Region.
The project was executed by the Network for Women’s Rights (NETRIGHT) Ghana, in partnership with the Grassroots Sisterhood Foundation (GSF), a Northern Region based NGO.
It also aimed at strengthening rural women’s control over their livelihood options in the context of the increasing commercial pressure on land and natural resources in the country.
The project was under the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) “Gender, Land and Accountability” Programme I selected African countries.
Madam Fati Alhassan, the Executive Director of GSF, speaking at the end of the project evaluation meeting in Accra, said through the sensitization and advocacy, the rural women now have voices in land governance in the catchment area.
She said the awareness created had gone down with the women to the extent that they, in turn, educated the members of their various communities.
The meeting brought about 40 participants made up of project beneficiaries, project partners, consultants, NETRIGHT members, and some key stakeholders.
Madam Alhassan said they have instituted Community Land Development Committee (CLDC) to assist women to have access to farm lands without any litigation.
The CLDC, she said, comprised traditional authorities, district authorities, women groups and other stakeholders in the family land system.
She said they also came up of tenancy agreement for agricultural land between trustees and farmers to facilitate access to land for farming purposes.
At the end of the programme, traditional leaders in seven out of the nine communities had given out five to 10 acres of land to the women for farming purposes, she said.
“For the first time in the history of the people we were able to break the myth that community lands cannot be given out to others for commercial purposes”.
Madam Alhassan, however, mentioned patriarchy and some negative practices as some of the challenges in the communities.
Other challenges include inadequate refresher programmes for the women and commercialization of land, which poses a threat to women’s desire to secure land.
Ms Cynthia Sunu, the Project Coordinator of NETRIGHT, said the first phase looked at the understanding of local context, existing challenges and emerging approaches promoting gender-equitable land governance as commercial pressures on land increased.
She said during the period they worked on the Land Bill, which they submitted to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Land and Natural resources.
She said despite the numerous achievements, there were pockets of resistance from some members who see the LCDC as a threat to their wanton sale of lands in the area.
Ms Sunu said although the project had ended, NETRIGHT would continue mobilizing support to ensure that women had full access to land.
Madam Patricia Blackson Akakpo, the Programmers Manager, urged stakeholders to work to ensure that women’s voices in land governance were strengthened.
She said the project would be replicated in other communities adding that Somenya, in the Eastern Region, was selected for the Southern Zone.
Madam Adwoa Sakyi, the Member of the Steering Committee, NETRIGHT, urged them to take the programme on with or without donor funding to make the mark in the lives of Ghanaian women.