From Thomas Agbenyegah Adzey, Kumasi .
The Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT), a non- governmental organisation (NGO) concerned with the mobilisation for women’s rights in Ghana, has called on the government and Parliament to expedite action on the passage of the 2018 Land Bill without any major change to its gender equality and social inclusion provisions.
The group, which is an advocate for gender equality and social inclusion reforms in the land sector for women, maintained that although nearly two-thirds of the population makes their living off the land as smallholder farmers, with the majority being women, access to land is a key challenge for women farmers, even though this is a basic requirement for farming.
NETRIGHT explained that the land tenure system in Ghana has deep-rooted structural and systemic challenges that have created gender and class inequalities, as there are several socio-cultural issues relating to land and land governance in the country, and women play a limited role within that context.
The group, in partnership with its regional focal points and international sponsors, is implementing a 30-month project, aimed at addressing the systemic barriers to enhance gender equality and social inclusion in land governance.
At a press briefing in Kumasi on Wednesday, the Project Coordinator, Ms. Cynthia Sunu, said the Gender Equality and Social Inclusion, known as GESI for short, is intended to mobilise support for the passage of a GESI responsive Land Bill, and also bring reforms in the land sector to protect the livelihoods of rural women farmers.
The Project Coordinator lamented that in the area of spousal property rights, the female spouse tends to be denied of the right to jointly acquire landed property, in spite of the provisions of Article 22 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, that stipulates equity in the sharing of such properties.
Ms. Sunu called on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to use his good offices, by ensuring that the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, the Parliamentary Select Committee on Lands and Forestry, and Parliament expedite action on the passage of the Land Bill with the GESI provisions intact to protect women and the vulnerable in society.
The Land Bill is the outcome of reforms introduced in the land sector as a result of the implementation of the 1999 National Land Policy (NLP), which was laid in Parliament last year for consideration and passage, but was referred to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Lands and Forestry.
The Bill was, however, withdrawn in March 2019, to be re-laid before Parliament after the select committee’s work.
The Programme Manager of NETRIGHT, Ms. Patricia Blankson Akakpo, said the organisation was concerned about gender dimensions, particularly vulnerable women in society, and called for the media to support this cause.
The NGO has also launched a signature campaign to solicit public support for the passage of the GESI Land Bill.