Summit Workshop: Land Rights

Categories: NewsPublished On: 15th June, 2023448 words2.2 min read

Summit Workshop: Land Rights

Categories: NewsPublished On: 15th June, 202320.4 min read

Saffron Bowtell, Project Support Coordinator at Fair Trade Wales, offers her summary of this workshop on land rights and ownership issues affecting women and Indigenous peoples in sub-Saharan Africa, which took place at our Summit.

This workshop was led by Barbara Davies Quy, the Deputy Director of Size of Wales. The charity works with communities around the globe to plant trees and protect at least 2 million hectares of tropical forests—an area the size of Wales. Barbara introduced the topic with a shocking statistic: “Women’s rights are essential for all, but under 15% of landowners globally are women.” She then introduced two speakers working closely with the issues of land tenure: Phoebe Ndiema and Pubudini Wickramaratne.

Phoebe Ndiema, Chepkitale Indigenous People Development Project

Phoebe works for Size of Wales’ NGO partner, Chepkitale Indigenous People Development Project, and leads on the gender justice project supporting land tenure for the Ogiek people in Kenya. The community depends on the land for their livelihoods. However, indigenous trees have been felled in favour of other species, which has led to cattle not grazing, biodiversity being impacted and residents being evicted. Phoebe discussed how women play a key role in tackling this in supporting court cases on degazettement and attempted eviction, participating as petitioners, in governance, and carrying out mapping, which helps prove the land belongs to indigenous people. The aim is to ensure this land is community-owned so that sustainable livelihoods can continue.

Pubudini Wickramaratne, Oxfam International

Pubudini is a human- and land rights lawyer currently working as a policy lead for Oxfam International. She discussed the centrality of land in our lives, as it is linked to economic development, food production, culture and more, but is under growing pressure from human use. Pubudini highlighted how people who contribute the least to climate change are feeling the effects of it the most, and this is a big problem for indigenous communities who have unrecognised land rights, meaning they are unable to access benefits or alternative accommodation when a climate disaster occurs. Land tenure rights give communities the stability to take necessary action and minimise or avoid loss and damage, therefore the aim must be to support these communities in having their land rights recognised.

Participations in the workshop

Participants discussed what we can do in Wales to support women and indigenous communities to claim their rights, such as promoting training, providing support for mapping, or developing dying skill sets. As one participant said: “Land is a gender-, climate- and human rights crisis, and there is a desperate need to address the authoritative balance on land rights, the skills indigenous communities bring and what we can do in Wales to support this work.”