Women's land rights issues unmasked
Wadzanai Community Development Trust (WCDT) last week visited 5 wards to facilitate dialogues on access, control and ownership of land by women.
Wards visited include Chiveso, Remari, Mupandira, Muchapondwa and Pote. Dialogues kicked off from a role play. The role play was done by members of Wadzanai CDT, which brought to the fore a plethora of problems that women grapple with when it comes to land ownership and control.
The dialogues took place in the presence of community leaders and ward members to allow full benefit of the entire community. The use of role plays enabled men and women to openly discuss issues affecting women's land access and solutions in the presence of their leaders.
Present during the meetings was Apolonia Chonyera, the director of Wadzanai CDT. She bemoaned the fact that many communities in Zimbabwe denied women their rights to own land both where they are born and in families into which they got married.
“It is sad to note that women do not own land, whether they are married or not. This is despite the fact that females are the major sources of labour on the land. The same women also make sure that children are well fed each and every day. Despite the fact that women work hard on land, ownership of the land in most cases is in the names of men, who rarely work to make it productive,” Chonyera said.
Councillor for ward 5 in Domboshava, Patson Paradzai Chogugudza said it is important to educate men and women so that they know their rights when it comes to women’s land and agricultural issues.
Chogugudza added that village heads, headmen and chiefs are customary leaders who should take a leading role in ensuring that the rights of women with regard to land are honoured. He also said that they should do so in collaboration with rural district councils, Zimbabwe Republic Police, Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement and the courts among others.
“We find that access to land is one the first and most challenging issues. We are glad that Wadzanai is engaging community leaders and communities to gradually challenge and change gender beliefs and norms” said Chogugudza.
Section 292 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe states that the state must take appropriate measures, including legislative measures, to give security of tenure to every person lawfully owning or occupying agricultural land.
Section 80 specifically provides for the rights of women. The Bill of Rights in Chapter 4 of the 2013 Constitution recognizes that men and women have a right to equal treatment.
From all the five wards, there were common and interesting issues that were raised as causes of unequal distribution of land between men and women. Some of which include culture and tradition, the concept of ‘lobola’ being a tool on its own that has to most ward members brought inequality between men and women, money being a powerful weapon and ignorance among participants and corrupt traditional leaders among others.
Wadzanai’s program developed solutions for more gender-equitable land and agriculture systems and helped address some of the fundamental disparities and biases that disadvantage women.