RWA Country Activities: February – March 2017

Namibian Rural Women’s Assembly Celebrates International Women’s Day 

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South African RWA celebrates International Women’s Day with a Discussion of Traditional Courts Bill and Traditional Khoi-San and Leadership Bill 

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On 8 March 2017, the South African chapter of RWA hosted a workshop on the Traditional Courts Bill and the Traditional Khoi-San and Leadership Bill in celebration of International Women’s Day. The purpose of the workshop was i) create a space for rural women to engage these bills because their voices are often marginalised in the policy development processes, and ii) raise awareness on the Bills and the implications it will have for rural women in South Africa.

The women spoke out about their experiences of traditional authorities in their respective areas. The key issues that emerged are specific instances where women have been dispossessed of land or their security of tenure has been compromised by the death of their husband. Women (single or widowed) are often refused access to land because they are unable to provide monetary incentives or gifts to chiefs. Women also raised concerns about maladministration and poor record keeping by traditional authorities and lack of support from the police in ensuring that their rights are recognised. Women spoke out about the structural and physical violence they experience in trying to access land in traditional rural communities. Several women agreed that personal connections and ties to influential people are instrumental and often determine outcomes
in traditional courts. This is also evident in cases where crimes were excused for individuals who are connected to traditional leaders. Reference was made to “royal blood” to demonstrate the protection of the interests of well-­connected individuals.
Despite these challenges, women continue to build solidarity among each other in their efforts to access land in support of livelihoods.


Women speak out about Violence and Extractivism 

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On 7 February 2017 rural women working in the agricultural sector and rural women affected by mining shared powerful testimonies of the structural and physical violence they experience on a daily basis.

Farmworker women shared their experiences of the health impacts of pesticides and the verbal abuse from farmers. Women from mining-affected communities spoke about the impact of mining on the safety of their communities.

The women also participated in a picket that took place outside the Africa Mining Indaba, confronting corporate power right where it meets each year. Attendeeds to this ‘auspicious’ event spend over 1000 US Dollars to gather and find new ways to plunder the continent, exploit the land and violate human lives as well as the climate. Women from as far as Sierra Leone, Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa took to the streets to say NO MORE!

 

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