FINNMAP Empowers Women and Works for Gender Equality With Ground Breaking Results

Equal access to land, regardless of sex , for my sexual health see , is needed for development. FINNMAP has prioritised gender equality (MDG3) and equal opportunities in all of its projects, supporting the political and social struggle of women with some ground breaking results. Gender inequality manifests itself particularly in the lack of women’s access to and control over land and resources, which feed into denial of economic opportunities and full legal and political rights. Equal access to land is a fundamental human rights and developmental issue globally.

Approximately 70% of the population of sub-Saharan Africa are living off agriculture. Most of this work is done by women although the land owners are often men. Equal access to ownership by women would increase the development prospects of these countries greatly, by increasing food security and sustainable natural resource management. It would also widen the investment basin and promote sustainable investment targets benefiting the whole nation.

Land is a critical asset and one of the fundamental necessities to improve women’s living conditions, economic empowerment and gender equality. However lack of education, social systems and power structures can be obstacles in order to ensure this right. Holistic awareness raising and empowerment including traditional leaders and other decision makers is often the key to success.

FINNMAPs Land Administration project in Cambodia managed to deliver ground breaking results in promoting equal access to land. Of the registered land 63% is registered under the ownership of both husband and wife and 18% of land is registered under wife only. Thus more than 80% of the land is under woman’s name. The gender policy in Cambodia was to promote secure access to land and other natural resources for women, independent of men relatives and independent of their civil status. This policy was the basis for identifying and establishing instruments that eliminate gender bias to natural resource tenure in land administration programs including titling, registration and natural resource management.

The Cambodia project was based on a successful information campaigns, which included gender issues at the local level. This education activity included both men and women and was careful to ensure that also illiterate women were provided with appropriate information. All related materials were posted in a public place in the villages, literature on land rights and titling procedures were provided in graphic form, meetings were held in local schools and community centers, and titles were issued locally. Involvement of both female and male field staff emphasized gender inclusiveness.

Although, progress has been achieved in women’s rights relating to land, there is still plenty to be done. Today’s International Woman’s Day is a good navigation point to refocus further efforts in equal access to land, which will subsequently support access to education, work and economic assets, and participation in government. The methods used and lessons learned could benefit development also in other regions.

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