Deputy Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs John Kufuna explains that some traditional practices have failed to recognise the role that access to land plays in women’s economic empowerment especially in rural areas where it is the basis for food production and income generation, as well as collateral for credit and as a means of holding savings for the future. GOVERNMENT says women are disadvantaged in terms of ownership and control over land despite their major role in food production which makes up for more than 60 percent of small scale farmers.
Deputy Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs John Kafuna said government was sad that many of these women did not have ownership and control over land due to inhibiting practices and traditions relating to land.
Mr. Kufuna explained that these practices and traditions have failed to recognise the role that access to land plays in women’s economic empowerment especially in rural areas where it is the basis for food production and income generation, as well as collateral for credit and as a means of holding savings for the future.
He pointed out that taking into consideration the challenges women faced as regards access to land, his ministry was working tirelessly to address some of the cultural practices that inhibit women’s rights to own productive resources as land.
Mr. Kafuna said “land is the basis for all forms of social and economic development and is the source of prestige, identity and a means to livelihoods especially for poor community members that live in rural and peri-urban areas.”
The Deputy Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs said this during the launch of the ‘Women’s Land Rights are Human Rights Report’ organized by Women for Change with the support of its partners at Cresta Golf View hotel in Lusaka.
Meanwhile, Women for Change vice chairperson James Chirwa said the objective of the event was to share the challenges women faced relating to ownership and control of land in rural areas as well as to outline some of the steps traditional leaders agreed to undertake to address the issue.
“Some customary practices and beliefs promote and inhibit women’s ownership and control over land; for example, in most cultures, widowed women rarely inherit land from their late husbands and their rights to joint ownership of marital property are not recognised. This belief has also trickled down to the Interstate and Succession Act which states that customary land cannot be inherited,” he added.
He explained that working with traditional leaders has helped change some of the negative practices and beliefs with regards to land ownership.
“Traditional leaders have realised the importance of allocating land to women. Traditional leaders being the custodians of customs have the authority to abolish negative practices,” Mr. Kafula explained.