About WLLA

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About WLLA

The African region, and women in Africa in particular, is plagued by high levels of poverty, tenure and food insecurity and HIV/AIDS. Women face entrenched discrimination, are often considered property themselves and are thought of as mere providers of labour. Thus they are denied any benefit from land and housing, lacking ownership, control or even access to housing and land. As a result, they often end up homeless and destitute.

Yet, women’s equal rights to land, housing and property are clearly recognized (including the Women’s Rights Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights) in international, regional and national law. In the last decade, many African countries have gone through, or are undergoing, constitutional and/or land law and policy reform processes.

In spite of the few land laws in Africa that now do explicitly recognize women’s equal land rights, there are still many law and policy reforms to be made.  And even where women’s equal rights to land are formally recognized, in most areas in Africa these rights are still far from reality for the majority of women, as cultural, social, economic and political realities co-exist with formal rights and obstruct women from actualizing their rights. 

Yet despite these odds, there are many efforts in the regions to combat such discriminatory practices and laws, and make housing and land rights a reality for women. Various committed organizations in the region are working hard to provide legal aid, conduct training sessions, produce information booklets, operate paralegal networks etc. At the same time, many grassroots groups are developing strategies for attaining and managing land, housing, and property, such as community farming, savings and credit schemes, and housing construction projects. However, most organizations and grassroots groups are so immersed in their daily work or daily survival that they are able to spend little time on coordination and information exchange issues. This means that:

–   Overlaps between activities exist;

–   Similar problems emerge in different countries without governments, organizations and grassroots women being able to draw from lessons already learned elsewhere;

–  Organizations are drawn into competition over funding of projects instead of coordinating objectives and activities;

–  Grassroots efforts at securing tenure are not always valued, supported, and partnered with sufficiently.

It has become clear that there is little to no coordination of efforts for the region as a whole, and no regional linking mechanism on the specific issue of women’s housing and land. WOMEN’S LAND LINK AFRICA seeks to provide such coordination. The WLLA has been created to play an important role in strengthening the already existing efforts on advocacy for law/policy reform and implementation; information dissemination and exchanges on best practices, lessons learned; and the development of tools and strategies towards achievement of women’s equal rights to land, housing and property.

The WLLA has been established by dedicated organizations already working at various levels-international regional and local-in and on the region, and beyond, on issues of women’s housing and land rights.