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Sheila Minkah-Premo
Sheila Minkah-Premo

Land policies must be favourable to women

Despite the range of legal provisions in Ghana emphasizing equality of all persons before the law, there are still significant pieces of evidence to suggest that the rights of vulnerable groups including women are not fully protected when it comes to access and use of land as a productive asset.

Women comprise 52% of the agricultural labour force in Ghana and contribute about 70% of food crop production in the country however; women reap minimal benefits from investments in the sector.

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture’s (MOFA) progress Report for 2013 shows that, large rate of women are illiterate and limited capacity to access and adopt improved agricultural technologies, thus making most of them poor. Women farmers’ access, control and ownership of land also pose a huge challenge to their farming activities.

Thus for any individual in Ghana and indeed for rural women who want to acquire land for any purpose, the significance of traditional rulers and family heads cannot be overlooked. Whist the fraternity of traditional leaders and family heads is male dominated and potentially biased against the interests of women, the threat is generally pronounced in patrilineal societies in Ghana.

Land plays a central role in the livelihood of many Ghanaians. Nearly two-thirds of the population makes their living off the land as smallholder farmers and agriculture remains an important contributor to the nation’s gross domestic product.

According to the lands commission, 80% of the lands in Ghana is communally owned; about 18% is vested lands while the remaining 2% is State owned.

According to Madam Sheila Minkah-Premoh, during a presentation  dubbed’ ’Addressing Systematic Barriers to Enhance  Gender Equality and Social Inclusion in Land Governance’  which was organized by Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana(NETRIGHT) in partnership  with  STAR GHANA, access to land is a key challenge for women farmers; although, it is a basic requirement for farming.

The land tenure system in Ghana has structural and systemic challenges that have created gender and class inequalities. There are several socio-cultural issues relating to land and land governance in Ghana and women play a limited role within that context.

Madam Minkah-Premoh said,in some communities, women have limited access to land as compared to men. In the area of spousal property rights, the female spouse tends to be denied of her right to jointly acquired landed property in spite of Article 22 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana that requires equity in the sharing of such properties.

In some communities, women are not even allowed to be present when issues of land are being discussed.

She therefore urged a review of the National Land Policy that will be 20 years old in 2019. She urged Government and stakeholders to push for its review to ensure the protection of women’s land rights.

The Vice President of the Ghana federation of Disabilities (GFD), Mrs. Mawunyo Yakor-Dagbah said, in some communities in Ghana, women with disabilities are not even allowed to enter certain parts of the so called stool land because they see the person’s impairment as a curse or bad omen.

She added that, when gender issues are being discussed, issues about women with disabilities are often missing. Women with disabilities have unequal land rights affecting their access to other resources such as their economic, social and political right as compared to other women without disabilities.

Even though Land Commission could not give us the statistics of women with disabilities that have acquired and registered lands, Women with disabilities disproportionally lack security of tenure she emphasized.

Mrs Yarkor-Dagbah recommended that, there should be sensitization and outreach programmes to strengthen women’s voice, representation and control over decision making on land with focus on women with disabilities.

She also recommended that, there should be advocate enactment of gender and land related policies and their effective implementation.

By: Latifa Carlos

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