Webinar Recap: Showcasing transformative approaches for women’s land rights | Land Portal

Webinar Recap: Showcasing transformative approaches for women’s land rights



Empowering women to occupy leadership roles and to take an active part in decision making processes in land governance has demonstrated that strides can be made towards gender justice. Increasingly, gender transformative leadership approaches to securing women’s land rights focus on supporting women to assume leadership positions in accessing, controlling, managing and owning of land and land related resources. Collective mobilization helps women to identify the common structural barriers they face.

The Land Portal and Both Ends co-hosted a webinar, "Showcasing transformative approaches for women's land rights," on 22 September 2022. The panel brought together experts from the Philippines, Kenya, India, and United States to discuss the transformative approaches for women’s land rights. At the center of the conversation were the questions of what gender transformative change actually is, what data we need to fuel these changes, and which strategies have been working on the ground. 



What do gender transformative approaches look like to you? 

The speakers addressed a wide range of approaches for women’s land rights to be transformational, from individual transformation to social changes to structural and legal reform. 

Ruth Meinzen-Dick of International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) stated that changing social norms is important but not enough. For example, in land rights, we must challenge norms that say women can’t own property, but we also have to change the structures that exclude women. Are there issues with the land registration system that prevent women from enjoying full land rights? Do the registration systems routinely include names of both husband and wife? First, is the form designed for that? Second, are staff trained to register both names? We need to look at the norms and the structures for transformational change. 

Banumathi Kalluri, Executive Director of Dhaatri, stressed that there is no substitute for legal rights. There needs to be a strong political will to ensure that women get formal legal rights to lands and common resources. Guidelines and good practice models of promoting gender equality do not bring real change. 

Frida Githuku, Executive Director of Groots Kenya, also drew from experience to state that the most effective way to transform land rights is through building movements. Together, her communities of women share their wealth, knowledge, numbers, and voices because, alone, they do not have the resources of others in different social hierarchies. Frida also spoke to personal and collective transformation: “There’s a very strong nexus between women’s land rights, gender-based violence, political participation, and human rights. The core transformation is personal, so that women as individuals believe they deserve those rights and have a right to natural resources.” 

Like Banu and Frida, Judy Pasimio emphasized the importance of collective organization. As the coordinator of the Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights (LILAK) in the Philippines, she shared a story to demonstrate the urgency of breaking down the isolation of indigenous communities, particularly women, not just geographically but politically. In the aftermath of Typhoon Hainan in 2013, national and local governments showed extreme surprise to see how well organized indigenous communities and women were, given their far-flung locations. The engagement that started then with disaster relief continued into the future. 


“Building and strengthening Indigenous women's leadership is a two edged sword. While it strengthens their position to be able to negotiate and transform power relations within their communities and even with the state, it is the same reason why they earn the ire of the vanguards of patriarchy.” - Judy Pasimio


Gender disaggregated statistics on women and land are insufficient

Gender inequalities feature in numerous studies and reports, yet gender disaggregated statistics on land ownership and holdings are inconsistent across many countries. At the Land Portal Foundation, we pay special attention to document and drive attention to land data and data gaps. This particular gap on women’s land data is problematic because it makes it hard to understand and monitor our stated goals around gender equity.

Several speakers discussed how one of their main challenges was the distortion of data or false data that works against women in their communities.

On the point of data gaps, Ruth spoke to the importance of process indicators to complement outcome indicators. For example, we need to think about not just a percentage of women owning land, but also data that reveals the number of women in land administration bodies or forest user groups, and attitudes of land administrators toward women having land rights. She also pointed out that almost all the data on land “ownership” is survey data on self-reported land ownership, which does not necessarily correspond to legally recognized land ownership, and that what data there is mostly covers private lands, not shared lands under communal tenure or common property, like forests or rangelands. 

Women’s personal knowledge of land issues is not converted into data or research sufficiently to support their arguments or to protect land rights. Banumathi shared how her organization helps women develop their own tools for developing data because there is a huge gap between academic data and personal, anecdotal data. 


“How do we value women’s stories as data and evidence and build them into knowledge-based data that can be supported by other empirical data?” – Banumathi Kalluri


Likewise, Fridah’s organization has been investing in training communities to generate their own data, what they call citizen or community-generated data. Recently, Kenya’s National Bureau of Statistics launched guidelines for citizen generated data, quite a mark of progress. Women are the majority in the poorest communities, and they rely heavily on public services, whether schools, hospitals, or water points. Collecting their own data is very important in understanding how public facilities are managed and quite directly related to their empowerment. 

In the Philippines, Judy’s organization is focused on uncovering the faces of those women who have been reduced to general statistics. The government found that 12.2 percent of Filipino families, an estimated 3.1 million people, experienced involuntary hunger at least once in three months. “But we know from our research on indigenous women that women are hungrier. They tend to give up their share of food for their husband or children, or would be the last person in the family to eat whatever is left.  And that has to be highlighted.”

Watch the replay in English here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pni8-rVA_g 
Replays in Spanish and French coming soon. 

Related content: 
Showcasing transformative approaches for women’s land rights
22 Setembro 2022
Land Portal Foundation

This third Whose Land? webinar showcased gender transformative approaches on women’s land rights. Gender transformative approaches are defined by women acting as agents of change, transforming structural barriers and redefining gender norms. These approaches facilitate the participation of women in land governance decision-making processes, but require closing the land data gender gap. 

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