NGOs unite to promote rural women’s land rights

A group of local and international women’s rights organisations on Monday launched a coalition that seeks to promote socio-economic development of rural women, through advocating for their rights to land.

A group of local and international women’s rights organisations on Monday launched a coalition that seeks to promote socio-economic development of rural women, through advocating for their rights to land.

The NGOs unveiled the ‘Rwandan Coalition for Women’s Access to Land’ (“CRAFT), the first platform in the country that seeks to address the socio-economic challenges faced by women in rural communities.

It also aims to coordinate the advocacy efforts from member organisations to promote policies and laws for equal access to land, management, administration and use for all women, and especially the most vulnerable, according to Odette Musengimana, Executive Secretary Women’s network for rural development.

She added that the platform focuses on creating awareness among the public and civil society on the social and cultural barriers women face when trying to access land.

 Despite significant progress of Rwandan legislation concerning women’s rights during recent years, women’s access to land still faces challenges.

The coalition is made of up of Haguruka, a local NGO that fights for the rights of women and children, Association Nzambazamariya Veneranda, a social justice, peace and sustainable development organisation,  Association of the Genocide widows Agahozo (AVEGA) and Women’s network for rural development.

Other organisations that make up the union include, Rwanda Network of People living with HIV/AIDS (RRP+) and RCN Justice and Démocratie, a Belgian organisation that focuses on strengthening of justice delivery, prevention and resolution of conflicts at local level.

Musengimana said: “Pooling together each member’s expertise and field experience, the CRAFT will act as a driving force for the enhancement of the policy framework, and as a key partner on equal land access for women.”

According to the statement from CRAFT, to achieve the set goals, members will organise several discussion forums and set up research activities on the effectiveness of women’s access to land and the challenges they are facing.

Improved livelihoods

CRAFT is being coordinated by Women’s network for rural development and RCN Justice and Démocratie. The coordination board is annually elected among the members.

According to 2012 Action Aid report, Rwanda’s land reforms have allowed women to safeguard their rights on land which has significantly improved livelihoods among communities.

The report, titled ‘Lay of the Land Improving Land Governance to Stop Land Grabs’, was a result of a survey that covered 24 countries worldwide.

The survey says that women-focused legislation in Rwanda improved women’s access to land, removing, on paper and customary gender discrimination.

In 2004, the government enacted an organic law on land to guarantee a safe and stable form of land tenure. Before that, the country never had a proper land policy.

In order to define and decide how the land registration process should be carried out, a Ministerial Decree determining modalities of registration was enacted in 2008 and a year later, the land registration process kicked off.

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