Date: August 26, 2016
Source: Action Aid press release
In Malawi, women’s land rights are often governed by customary laws, which are unwritten and lead to the marginalisation of women. Incredibly, women own just 1% of Africa’s land. In the village of Chikojo in Malawi, Maureen Adson is taking a stand.
Find out how you can support women like Maureen here!
25-year-old Maureen Adson is wise beyond her years, and in her village of Chikojo, she is leading women to stand up and lobby for equal rights to land ownership. Her drive, she says, comes from her own struggle to keep hold of her land that is rightfully her own.
“I got married in 2007 and a year later, he abandoned me and left for South Africa.”
“I was not employed hence I faced family problems, and other social challenges, the only available option was to have enough land.”
Without her husband by her side, cultural practice dictates that widowed or abandoned women like Maureen no longer have a right to their land despite having a lawful claim. Many women like Maureen are forced, often violently, from their land and left with nothing.
Through an ActionAid supported women’s group, Maureen learnt that in spite of unfair, normalised cultural practices, she had a legal right to her land.
“I heard about the REFLECT group and I decided to go there just to learn more about women’s rights.”
Empowered with an understanding of her rights, Maureen took it upon herself to mobilise women in her community who had overcome similar challenges. She is leading these women to raise awareness in her community around women’s rights to land.
The women have also successfully lobbied for the village chief to allocate some farming land to them. Maureen and the women of the Chikojo Village knew that in order to properly advocate for the re-allocation of land to women, they needed the chief to understand women’s rights.
“I attended some of the REFLECT Circle meetings after I was invited by women and I learnt a lot about women’s rights. Because Adson and her friends approached me, I felt determined to support them by approaching authorities of the Community Based Rural Land Project to support them,” explained Group Village Headman Chikojo.
Through her resilience and determination, Maureen managed to transform the perception of women in her community as being capable providers with equal rights.
Now economically independent, she has successfully built a new home and started her own business. Maureen's maize, groundnuts and beans are flourishing.
When rural women, like Maureen, are empowered and supported to mobilise and work together, they have huge potential to drive change in their communities and claim their rights. This October, that is exactly what is happening!
From the north, south, east, and west of Africa, women farmers like Maureen are coming together to raise awareness around land rights for women and the barriers they face in owning and accessing land and resources like water! In a movement of solidarity, these women will climb Africa’s highest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro, raising their voices and proclaiming their demands for all the world to hear. YOU can join them! Click here to find out how.
Read original press release here