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Women and Land, 29 June 2017

Women and Land, 29 June 2017

The CPLO hosted a timely and topical roundtable on the question of land and the challenges women face in relation to ownership. There were four speakers: Ms Carmen Louw (Co-Director of Women on Farms Project and the Programme Coordinator of Land and Housing); Ms Nonqaba Mehlomakulu (Legal Advisor for the Land Claims Commission); Dr Donna Hornby (A Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Association for Rural Advancement); and Dr Suzall Timm (Trust for Community Outreach and Education). They raised quite a lot of challenging and sometimes depressing facts and statistics around the situation of women and land. What kept coming through was the reality and legacy of the disempowerment of women in economic and legal spaces and how those forces and conditions keep impacting on women’s’ inability to access land and other economic opportunities. The lack of land itself also feeds the state of disempowerment and dependency on both males and the state. Though much of the discussion focused on individual ownership of land for all women especially in rural spaces, it was pointed out that this exclusion also takes place in bigger spaces of commercial agriculture. Even though white women were and are part of the white farm owning minority, even there, white males dominate and control those farming spaces.

What was encouraging about the roundtable was the realisation that though the problem is big, there is a great recognition of the problem and also a realisation that even in families, what benefits men is not necessarily what benefits women, and that the question of land is both a racial and gender issue.

L-R: Dr Donna Hornby, Fr Matsepane Morare SJ (Land and Human Settlements Reseracher, CPLO), Ms Nonqaba Mehlomakulu, and Dr Suzall Timm