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The foundation for this Program lies in the many studies that have shown women’s apparent poverty despite doing the bulk of work including farm work, the persistence Gender Based Violence – forced marriages, levirate, Female Genital Mutilation, sexual abuse, denial of inheritance rights among others – despite numerous interventions. Women have unequal access to land compared with men. Studies have shown that only 11% of women worldwide own land and in Sub Saharan Africa only 2% of women own land on which they farm. Women also have unequal access to credit – according to some studies, only 1% of women have access to credit for agricultural activities. There is also the issue of inadequate access to technology – again, research shows that only 11% of Agricultural extension officers are women (1988), only 7% of Agriculture extension services target women. WiLDAF sees all of the above issues as Human Right issues as they concern issues of discrimination, disempowerment and exclusion. We believe that change will only happen when women know and claim their rights relating to the above issues.
The Women’s Agriculture and Land Rights is therefore designed to respond to problems associated with rural women farmers and their access, control and ownership of land. It also explores the linkages between access, control and ownership with their participation in decision making and food security. Working mainly with farmers’ groups and individual farmers, women are given the tools to own, control and have access to land for farming, building and other personal or commercial purposes. They are able to participate in decision making relating to land and its use.
The “Women Farmers against Poverty in West Africa’’ project is currently running under this Program. The project was initiated by WiLDAF West African Sub Regional Office (WASRO) with the collaboration of the Network of Farmers’ and Agricultural Producer Organisations of West Africa (ROPPA). The overall objective is to reduce poverty among rural women and empower them to claim their economic, social and political rights. The project is supported by Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the Funding Leadership and Opportunities for Women (FLOW) and being implemented in these countries: Togo, Liberia Benin Burkina Faso and Ghana. The implementing partners in Ghana are WiLDAF-Ghana and Farmer’s Organisation Network in Ghana (FONG). Project specific focal areas include; empowering women farmers on legal and human rights; combating violence against women at the community level; promoting women’s access, control and ownership to land; advocating for mainstreaming gender in agricultural and food policy Programs in Ghana; connecting farmers to the market through ICT – Using mobile phones. Thus far, the project has contributed to increased knowledge and respect for women’s rights leading to changes in negative customary practices. It has also contributed to increasing women’s access to land, credit, market, technology and other agricultural resources. As at the end of 2014, women who prior to the project were not given land during the distribution of family land, or allowed to purchased land without the prior consent of their husbands or male relatives were now allowed to do so. Over 800 women in the project communities were able to claim economic, civic, social and political rights; over 164 women were able to acquire land; 360 farmers said they have increased knowledge in agricultural technological skills among others. This project will be brought to scale by extending it to other communities and other districts.