In more than a decade of working on women’s land rights, I have often been asked the question “where is the evidence?” While we have more and more insight into how secure land rights benefit women, men, and communities, the question remains “how to get there?”: we don’t know as much as we should (or would like!) about what works, or does not, to improve land rights for women.
The claims are by tribal or pastoral communities seeking community rights over forest land they have inhabited for generations. Out of 4.224 million claims received, only 1.894 million titles have been distributed, 1.939 million have been rejected and a little less than 400,000 are still being assessed.
Sougue Kadjatou is a 45-year-old farmer who lives with her husband and two children in Agboville, a village in Côte d’Ivoire. Her cocoa plantation, where she works every day from morning until early afternoon, is a forty minute walk from the village. “I’m glad they told me to plant banana and timber trees in my cocoa plantation,” she says. “It’s good to plant various trees. The bananas give me something to eat and sell, whereas the timber is a friend of the cocoa. Gives it shade.