Land is a foundation for dignity, for meeting basic needs, for economic survival and for social empowerment. It is a critical issue for women living in rural, peri-urban and urban areas.
Securing land rights and access to natural resources is imperative to sustaining human dignity in impoverished and indigenous communities. Security of tenure is particularly crucial for women, who are often marginalized by development and land policies in practice. In rapidly-expanding urban areas, members of the Huairou Commission network have been displaced from their productive land and resettled in informally planned settlements lacking infrastructure. Without access to basic services, these communities face numerous hazards, from urban flooding and related diseases to insecure mobility for women in poorly-lit and ill-planned streets. Empowering grassroots women to take control of their land rights is a positive step in breaking this vicious cycle.
Apart from gendered inequalities in land access, ownership and control, there is insufficient understanding of how women’s lived experiences affect the security of different forms of tenure. Reviews of tenure for women focus on the legality or level of formality of tenure systems, rather than on the political, social and economic barriers that women face. Yet, over a time period, sometimes lasting decades, grassroots women have succeeded in employing concrete strategies to navigate across cultural, economic and institutional terrain to finally secure tenure.
By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance.Sustainable Development Goal 1, Target 1.4
Research shows that security of tenure, including the right to own, use, control, transfer, inherit and make decisions about land and related resources, leads to increased agricultural productivity, improved nutrition, better living standards, economic opportunity and greater social status. The resounding effects of security of tenure, particularly for women, feature prominently in four Sustainable Development Goals: to end poverty (Goal 1), to achieve food security (Goal 2), to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls (Goal 5) and to make cities and regions inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable (Goal 11). In tandem with these SDGs, the Huairou Commission’s network member approach to sustainable and inclusive development has generated four key policy recommendations for ensuring equal land tenure security for all (laid out in the Policy Brief “Women’s Security of Tenure Now and Beyond”).
The Huairou Commission partners with organizations to claim equal rights to land and home ownership. Among our partners is the Global Land Tool Network / UN-Habitat, a global alliance aimed at alleviating poverty through land reform and management. As part of the Global Land Tool Network’s Rural International Civil Society Organizations Cluster, the Huairou Commission has played significant roles in learning exchanges, including engendering the Social Tenure Domain Model, Gender Evaluation Criteria and Peer to Peer Exchanges.