I am very happy to be part of this event, alongside the Coalition for Equitable Land Acquisitions and Development in Africa (CELADA) CELADA works particularly on the ways in which commercialization of land has impacts on communities in Sub-Saharan Africa, and has held many events in the past on the ‘Global Land Grab’ and related topics. The event is co-sponsored by the School of International Development and Global Studies (SIDGS)
As many readers will know, Canada has a Feminist International Assistance Policy which also involves 50% of all overseas assistance funding going to programmes in Africa. In most African countries, agriculture and other resource-based livelihoods remain important to the majority of the population. In farming communities, women are responsible for much of the labour – at least 50% although it is often said to be 70% – but they rarely have full control over the land that they farm. It is extremely rare for women to actually have full legal ownership over land, for various legal, cultural, financial and other reasons. Some countries, such as Rwanda and Kenya, among many others – have put in place laws on inheritance and land ownership which provide women with legal rights to register land in their own name. However, in practice, there are often barriers which prevent women from taking ownership. This is especially the case for those who are not formally married or are second or third wives (i.e. in polygamous households).
The event invites students, faculty, and policy makers to explore the potential for Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy to strengthen African women’s access and rights to land. I will be moderating a panel discussion which features four highly experienced, expert women who will talk about different aspects of this topic. These panelists are:
- Nyambura Githaiga, Canadian Foodgrains Bank
- Lindsay Mossman, Aga Khan Foundation
- Shakilla Umutoni, Rwanda High Commission to Canada
- Jean Symes, Interpares
The event takes place on Wednesday March 27th from 15:30 – 17:30 in FSS4006, Faculty of Social Sciences Building, University of Ottawa Campus, 120 University Private. Presentations will be in English, followed by a bilingual discussion. There is no entry-fee.
I will update this blog after the event with some notes on how it went and what the next steps may be. I think that there is lots of work to do in helping the Canadian government identify useful entry-points for programming on women’s access to, and control over, land.