Why is land such an important source of power for indigenous and community women? Four experts weigh in

At the most recent Women Deliver conference—the world’s largest gathering on gender equality and the wellbeing of girls and women—experts from across the RRI Coalition had the opportunity to learn from diverse leaders around the world, while also raising awareness of the urgent need to recognize the rights of indigenous, rural, and community women. Here’s what participants said international audiences need to know about the challenges and opportunities facing this unique subset of women.

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Case for optimism: Real-world success stories of indigenous and community women claiming their rights

Recognizing and securing women’s land and resource rights—in law and practice—benefits women, their communities, and their countries. Strong governance rights for women underpin their ability to participate in decision-making affecting their personal agency and economic security, their children’s future, and the future of the planet. Just a handful of stories from the RRI Coalition demonstrate how, across the world, indigenous and rural women are fighting for their land and resource rights, and using their traditional knowledge and leadership to contribute to myriad global development goals.

More than 4,300 civil society representatives from 130 countries participated this March in the 62nd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62)—which focused this year on rural women and girls. Although the Agreed Conclusions adopted by all CSW Member States fell short of what advocates were pushing for, they still represent a shared commitment toward respecting the rights of indigenous and rural women.

As Nepal wrote a new constitution and laid out guidelines for three tiers of elections, community forest users worried that the new government would leave little room for the voices of traditionally marginalized groups, like rural women and Dalits, a historically persecuted community in Nepal and India. The power to sit at the bargaining table and make important policy decisions, they agreed, had to come from adequate representation, particularly at the local government level.

That’s why women leaders and activists at a civil society organization called FECOFUN decided to run for office.

The creation of platforms to acknowledge and address the role of Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and rural women may represent a crucial step toward addressing the disparity between the lands Indigenous Peoples and communities protect and depend on and the legal recognition of their rights. These communities will have a formal platform at future climate talks to exchange knowledge, influence policy, and press for recognition of their rights before world leaders.

Women as Agents of Climate Change Action

Arguably the biggest problem facing humanity—climate change—has a surprising solution: legally recognize and enforce the land rights of rural women in customary tenure systems. This November, it is essential that the world’s nations gathering in Bonn for the United Nations’ annual climate change conference (COP23) do not lose sight of this tremendous opportunity.

The Effects of Large-scale Land Acquisitions on Women

Over the last two decades, companies in search of vast tracts of available land for agriculture, mining, and other uses have increasingly turned to rural Asia and Africa. From 2008 to 2010, between 51 and 63 million hectares of land were acquired on the African continent through such large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs). And while the repercussions of LSLAs affect entire communities, women suffer the most.

Power and Potential: New Report on Women’s Rights to Community Forests

A new analysis from RRI provides an unprecedented assessment of legal frameworks regulating indigenous and rural women’s community forest rights in 30 developing countries comprising 78 percent of the developing world’s forests.

Knowledge and Tenure in Bailique

This November, two pieces of good news have come from Brazilian communities that are working with the sustainable management of their forests.