This post is written in response to: What would it take to strengthen women's land rights, in practice?
Firstly I would like to appreciate the genuine and contemporary question. I will give the answer with respect to the Nepalese context, based on our experiences. For me the foremost thing that comes to mind regarding strengthening women’s land rights is the establishment of community property rights over natural resources.
In Nepal communities have been managing forests, commonly known as community forests, for more than 2 decades. The community forests in Nepal are a successful conservation approach. Here communities have the rights to conserve, protect and use natural resources but they do not have ownership of the land. Consequently, the government can declare community forests as National parks or conservation areas whenever it wishes to. This practice had demotivated community people, especially because if community people want to run enterprises or economic activities linked with the forest, investors and banks will not support them because the community people do not have ownership over the land.
If community land rights are addressed and adopted by rural women, land rights will be eventually strengthened and this will automatically solve all of the land tenure issues.
The second thing that comes to mind is strong policies as well as fair implementation. The new constitution of Nepal had more or less tried to cover this aspect with some good points. Dual ownership (husband and wife) in property and family affairs is one of the mentionable achievements in this case. But the practice of Nepal, as well as several other developing countries, is that they have good policies, which remain only within files. Hence there should be monitoring for the implementation of these policies. Further rural women are not in a position to implement the policies made for them, hence documentation of implementing processes in a simple way would be more effective.
The alliances, networks and campaigns regarding natural resources management and land tenure should be supported strongly.
Besides this our cultural and socio-environment has always dominated women and still today there are many women in our society who are unaware of their fundamental rights. Hence awareness raising campaigns, socio, economic and cultural empowerment, and enhancing the decision making abilities of rural women will be the best option for strengthening women’s land rights as well as implementation of the policies made for securing women’s right in Nepal.