ILC-IFAD-FAO side event at CSW 56 in New York and related online discussion

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Synthesis of the on-line discussion and side-event at CSW56

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The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is an intergovernmental body and functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) mandated to promote gender equality and the advancement of women. In February and March 2012, the 56th session of the CSW focused on the empowerment of rural women as a way to eradicate poverty and hunger, and promote development. In the lead-up to this event, ILC facilitated an online discussion on the Land Portal, an interactive knowledge platform with a dedicated Gender page, and the FSN-Forum, to gather examples on how to secure women's land rights.

The discussion focused on (successful) examples of women claiming their rights; examples of policies and tools that promote women's land rights; the role of women's organisations; and the wider policy context, affecting or promoting women's land rights. While highlighting the difficult situation faced by women in many countries, over 70 contributions to the discussion included many examples on how to promote women’s land rights, providing recommendations based on best practice in three main areas:

  1. Understanding rights: the importance of information
  2. Claiming rights: the importance of mobilisation
  3. Guaranteeing rights: the importance of enabling environments and implementation

You can find the Synthesis of the on-line discussion on the Land Portal through the links below:

The synthesis was shared at the CSW during the side-event “How can women’s land rights be secured? Learning from successful examples” (1 March 2012) jointly organised by ILC, IFAD and FAO, who chaired the event. Representatives from Governments, the UN system and other international organisations, civil society organisations, academia and grassroots women shared and learnt from experiences of how to secure women’s land rights and support women in negotiating and obtaining rights to land.

The outcome of the Commission’s consideration of the priority theme takes the form of agreed conclusions, negotiated by all States. Regrettably, the Commission did not adopt agreed conclusions as an impasse was reached during negotiations. We hope that Member States will live up to their commitments and responsibilities regardless, particularly those expressed in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

For more information, please click here.


Why are women's land rights so important?

The most important resource for rural women is land. Despite women’s critical role and contribution to agriculture, rural development, and food security, women across the world are discriminated in terms of their access to, ownership of and control over land, and the income produced from it. Women’s ability to access land and to claim, use and defend rights to land and other natural resources is weakened by their status within the household and community, as well as discriminatory customary or statutory laws. Growing commercial pressures on land increase dependency on subsistence agriculture and further undermine women’s land rights.

According to FAO’s 2011 State of Food and Agriculture Report (SOFA), evidence of gender inequalities in access to land is ‘overwhelming’: social norms discriminate against women, with customary practices restricting women’s ability to own or operate land, and if they do, that land is generally of a lesser quality and size than men’s (SOFA 2011:23ff), but land rights for women are crucial to closing the gender gap in agriculture. In IFAD supported programmes, securing land tenure is central to reducing rural poverty and increasing agricultural production, as well as achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment. ILC, a network of intergovernmental and civil society organisations, of which IFAD and FAO are founding members, promotes secure and equitable access to land for women and men and has a targeted Women’s Land Rights Initiative.


See also

Wikigender on the Land Portal

External links


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