Rural Women Speaking Out on Land in SADC!

On the first day of the People’s Summit, the country chapters of the RWA presented cases on the situation of security of tenure for rural women in Southern Africa. This session explored issues of tenure, titling, investments and land grabs in the region. Here are some brief excerpts of rural women speaking out about issues of patriarchy, domestic violence, insecure tenure, women’s land rights:


“Our husband’s sits with many hectares of land. we have no say in that land. we must start to demand one hectare from our husband’s.” (RWA Member)

Theresa is a widow and that had no land permit. When her husband passed away her in laws told her that it is was their sons land. They told her that our son is dead you must go. She moved back to her elderly parents. She build a five roomed house from bricks which she made with her own hands. When her parents died her brother told her to leave the land. She was still ploughing the field when her brother threatened to chop her head off. He hung her upside down from a tree. She took the case to the chief who told her brother to beat her off the land. She looked for advice from a local RWA member who helped her with claiming her rights.

Esnati said that nothing can happen without women but we are not considered in this world. What should we do? We come to every SADC taking about the same issues.  But do things change?  Our issues are not considered.

The husbands have the opportunity to get land. Husbands can decide to give you land. Widows can inherit land but while the husband is still alive there is patriarchal power over the wife.

‘While the husband is still alive there is patriarchal power over the wife…’

‘They fight us over assets. There is no domestic violence act. A woman was killed because she was given assets as part of the divorce settlement.

Widows are also sent to their parents’ house and the in laws sell your property.  It’s important to know your rights. Whatever we learn we should use it. We should inform the others.

Mozambique women have access to land but they don’t have the means to cultivate the land.  If you don’t use land the government takes it back.

There are two types of marriages: paternal and maternal. Paternal widows are chased from marital land and brothers don’t want them back at parents place.  Widows and children are left destitute. Women want land in their own name. We went to parliament. We will fight for law We are saying no to foreign commercial farming.

*Report provided by Carmen Louw from Rural Women South Africa chapter.


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