BlogWomen's Land Rights

Apr 09 2012

How women can help solve the global food security problem


Asira working on her farm. Photo credit: Deborah Espinosa

Four years ago, Asira Nzamwitaakuze, a Rwandan farmer and mother of four young children, more than doubled her harvest when she gained a powerful tool not normally kept in a barn or tool shed.

Her tool? A land title.

This single piece of paper gave Asira the security of knowing that her rights to the land were protected by law, and the confidence to use more expensive, quality fertilizer on her land to improve it and boost her harvests and income.

Women farmers like Asira already produce nearly half of the food grown in the developing world, often without the benefit of legal control over the land they farm, or the security such control brings.

Research shows that, like Asira, they can significantly improve their harvests if they have secure land rights.

This potential for female farmers to help address the food security challenge is finally gaining attention as evidenced by a flurry of new infographics on the subject by FAO and Farming First, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and USAID and this new food security issue brief by Landesa.

Importantly, when women have secure rights to land, studies indicate, the impact isn’t limited to fuller granaries:

Family nutrition and health improves
• Women are less likely to be victims of domestic violence
• Children are more likely to receive an education and stay in school longer
• Women may have better access to micro-credit, as Asira highlights in the video below
• Women’s participation in household decision-making increases

For a sense of how fundamentally this can change life for a farmer, her family, and her community, watch this five-minute video which spotlights the impact of Landesa’s partnership in Rwanda:

During Landesa’s decade of work in Rwanda, which continues today, the organization’s economists, attorneys and other experts advised on land laws, and developed and piloted legal aid and education programs to ensure that women understood and could benefit from the nationwide documentation of land rights.

Asira, whose family had been tilling the same patch of ground for generations but without legal proof of their land rights to or any way to legally defend those rights, received title to her hillside plots as part of a Landesa-supported government program.

This blog originally appeared on the ONE Campaign blog.

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