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Regional News of Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Source: GNA

Gov’t urged to promote rural women access to land

The Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) has appealed to government to introduce policies to promote rural women’s access to land.

Ms Lois Addo, Programme Officer, WiLDAF, said despite rural women’s contribution to the agricultural sector, they often had very limited access to land due to traditional, principles, customary rules and policies.

She said because most rural women engage in farming as a source of livelihood, access to land was important for them to contribute to economic development.

Ms Addo was speaking at a press conference in Accra to commemorate the World Day for the Rural Woman, which would be celebrated on October 15, 2015 to assess women contributions to food security.

The day is on the theme: “From Rhetoric to Action” and would call attention to the removal of all traditional barriers as far as women’s land acquisition was concerned.

Ms Addo said institutional settings, which did not favour equal means of access to both sexes had made men more likely than women to get access to family lands.

She said being a female placed women in a disadvantageous position in accessing land in some communities because the rules required the presence of male partners before land is leased out to women.

However, the two traditional institutions such as inheritance and marriage have offered women greater opportunity to have access to land.

Ms Addo called for education for women to know their rights in marital relationships and be made to document properties they had acquired together with their husbands to be used as evidence in case of a problem.

“If women allow their lands to be registered in their husbands name it does not make them owners of such lands anymore since it is what is on paper that proves your worth as owner”.

Mrs Melody Darkey, Director WiLDAF Ghana, said as districts became more urbanized the increasing cost of land was another problem facing rural women farmers.

Similarly, she said, the complicated land transactions and processes had made issues regarding the land tenure system more cumbersome.

Mrs Darkey said although Ghana had ratified many international conventions such as Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, among others and had in place relevant laws and policies, little positive action and institutional change had occurred over the years.

She stressed that it was therefore important for legislation to be made to protect the property rights of spouses as required under the 1992 constitution, education on marriage laws and rights within marriage, education on contractual agreements to be equipped with the requisite knowledge involved in entering contractual agreements.

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