By Thandeka Matebesi
LUPANE Youth for Development Trust has partnered with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) to strengthen women rights to own, control and use land through mainstreaming capacitation of traditional leaders and lower level policy.
The project is being run as part of the One World No Hunger project, which is implemented by KAS with support from the German government.
The main goal of the project is to fight hunger through strengthening women’s land rights in Zimbabwe. The project is currently operational in Shurugwi and Mutasa Districts and plans are underway to formalise the implementation of the project in Lupane.
A member of Lupane Youth for Development Trust (LUYDT) Ashlee Buhlebenkosi Nhliziyo said the awareness project is meant to educate women on their land rights, with the hope of improving land ownership by women.
The project land rights for women is crucial and affecting Zimbabwean communal areas as there is a direct relationship between women’s rights to land, economic empowerment, food security and poverty eradication.
Land rights issues will enable shifts in gender power relations and can ensure that all people regardless of gender benefit from land in Lupane.
“Women represent at least 90% of the agricultural labour force but a few seem to have control or ownership of land. The awareness project seeks to conscientise women on legal frameworks of land ownership as stated in the Constitute of Zimbabwe and the Statutory Instrument 53 of 2014 (land settlement Act),” Nhliziyo said.
She added that reasons why there is reduced ownership by women range from cultural barriers such as patriarchy, to general lack of knowledge on land rights.
“Land is a significant indicator of wealth, power and social security in Lupane patriarchy and conservative social set up cultural barriers whereby women are viewed as caregivers therefore they are stereotyped.
“The other reason is the lack of knowledge; most women did not know that they have equal rights with man when it comes to land ownership,” Nhliziyo said.
She further elaborated that promoting adult education and literacy courses for women based on land rights advocating for change within cultural barriers in the social setup translation of the constitution to a language which rural communities are familiar with can help to redress the prevailing inequality.
She also said lack of access to land among women contributed to impoverished livelihoods and that there is need to continue with educating women on their rights.
Advocacy and engagement in community dialogues our efforts so far when it comes to making women understand their land rights.
“Lack of land ownership results in poverty, food insecurity since agriculture is the backbone of every rural community lack of accommodation,” Nhliziyo said.
Project coordinator for the One World No Hunger Project at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation Goodhope Ruswa said that traditional leaders can play a pivotal role in strengthening land rights as they are the custodians of land and customs at community level.
“Traditional leaders can act as mediators and advocates for women’s land rights. It is important therefore to find a balance between customary law and general law so as to strengthen women’s land rights,” he added.