Keynote speaker, Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, Commissioner for the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture Women of the African Union Commission, stated that women and other marginalized groups are not homogenous, a theme that was expanded upon by the panel of distinguished speakers. Sacko highlighted that women and girls face multiple forms of exclusion, be it because of age, marital status, ethnicity, or religion, and so safeguarding their livelihoods, including secure land tenure is paramount.
However, women are routinely denied rights to land, have less land than men, and have land of lesser quality than men due to a number of challenges, including the fact that poor land administration and complex administration systems contribute to a lack of transparency, often leading to corruption. This corruption further obstructs women’s access to land, increases obstacles to reach markets, and in extreme cases, can lead to evictions.
Sacko further elaborated that increasing women’s agency is key to securing land governance because many women are not fully engaged in decisions on land. This is because women are often not considered to be the public face of a family and land administration, which, at its core, is a public activity. Although there are existing problems that women face regarding secure land tenure, including a scarcity of land tenure data for women, the problems represent opportunities for governments, civil society organizations, academia, communities, and individuals to focus their transformative energies in a collective effort to secure land tenure rights for women and other marginalized groups.