Why African Women Should Own Land

Why African Women Should Own Land

Research shows that if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they would increase the yields of farms by 20%-30% and reduce hunger by up to 17%. In addition, women plough back profits to their households, therefore alleviating poverty from the bottom up.

Given that they have vast indigenous knowledge of local plant species, this helps them provide a wide variety of nutritious food for their family, therefore curbing malnutrition at a household level. This means that by limiting women’s rights to land and other assets, we are denying ourselves the opportunity to increase food production, reduce hunger and limit malnutrition.

Most societies remain predominantly patriarchal and women are consistently marginalised due to societal norms. To create change, we need bottom-up solutions that bring both women and men together to come up with solutions, like in the case of Naatum women’s group.

Legislation alone is not enough to change society’s views on women’s property rights. The legal processes as they stand are expensive in terms of money and time and can sometimes be counter-effective to the desired outcome, as it might create hostility between the men and women in these societies. But in the long-run, such changes can improve a community.

As former US President Barack Obama said: “Communities that give their daughters the same opportunities as their sons, are more peaceful, are more prosperous and develop faster.” This is as true in the agriculture sector, as it is for any industry.

To be clear, I am not saying the responsibility of feeding the world’s growing population or taking care of the family rests solely on the female farmer, nor am I saying female farmers should only focus on food production and not take part in agricultural innovation and research.

My point is, women are currently the workforce for food production, yet they have no access to the very basic tools required to produce food. Closing the gender gap in agriculture and supporting women in their quest to have land ownership rights and access to the right tools will see their efforts quadruple, and will help us achieve Sustainable Development Goals #2 and #5.

We must march in support of the hands that feed us.

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