Enhancing women’s land rights!
The issue of women empowerment is not just a matter of increasing women representation in decision-making processes and educating women as the case may be.
In Africa, with no exception in Sierra Leone, women bear the brunt of the economy in the provision of livelihood for a majority of homes; the African woman has been subjected to the arduous task of being the breadwinner.
If it is not through back-breaking agricultural activities, it is petty-trading, toiling under the hot-burning sun from dawn to dusk, only to return home and perform daily domestic chores of preparing food, laundering and general cleaning, in addition to taking care of the kids. Men have become actual demi-Gods, lording over the African woman!
In addition to this unpalatable state of the African woman, women’s rights have remained inadequately unarticulated and largely unrealized. In our country, women comprise over 50% of the population and yet only a paltry 1% of women have titles to registered land.
We believe that women’s right to land is critical to women empowerment. Even though there may be legislation that recognizes the right of women to own land, yet the lack of clear gender specific policy has rendered such legislation ineffective. The national land policy of 2015 was legislated against the background of a constitutional review process, and contains beautiful proposals that partly address the issue of women’s land rights. Sadly, implementation of the policy remains a utopia.
It is against this back drop that we join the call by the Sierra Leone Land Alliance to treat women’s land rights as fundamental human rights; women have been marginalized for far too long!
We urge the powers that be to ensure that conscious efforts at gender parity do not remain mere paper rights, but translate into concrete and enforceable entitlements!
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