GOVERNMENT and policymakers have been urged to harmonise policies and laws governing land in a way that protects women, who have been marginalised in land ownership.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
A recent Oxfam report on women and land said there was need to close the gaps in the legal framework to ensure women are empowered in land ownership because despite women making up 70% of the rural population, only 18% are beneficiaries of A1 farmland and 12% are under A2 farms.
Currently, Parliament is crafting the Land Commission Bill, which is before the Senate in the Committee Reading Stage, and during public hearings on the Bill, women demanded that they should benefit from land ownership.
“There is need to take affirmative action and rectify gender discrimination and imbalances resulting from past policies and practices by considering a target for women’s land ownership, either sole ownership or joint ownership with the spouse,” read the Oxfam report.
“Laws and policies governing land, mining, local government and the environment must be harmonised in a way that protects women.”
Oxfam said the Land Commission Bill, which covers agricultural land, must be structured so that it contributes to the achievement of gender equality in Zimbabwe.
“Ways to do this include making the land register public, so that gender inequalities can be identified and dealt with, ensuring the practical independence of the Land Commission and ensuring the rights of women in access, use and control of agricultural land.”
To empower women, Oxfam suggested the signing and ratifying of the revised Sadc Protocol on Gender and Development, with 2030 targets.
“There is need to accommodate more women in land allocations that might be freed up by the land audit, and ensure representation of women in land-related decision-making structures,” the international organisation said.