Two recently released United Nations reports emphasize the importance of women’s access to and control over land to their ability to protect human rights.
Released today, the report Realizing Women’s Rights to Land and Other Productive Resources shows how women’s right to land is directly linked to food security, sustainable development, economic empowerment, and protection against HIV/AIDS. According to UN Women, “Women who have secured land rights acquire more independence and power in their families and communities, as well as in their economic and political relationships” and face “lower levels of violence and reduced vulnerability to HIV.”
Complementing the findings of the report on land rights, last week the United Nations released a report detailing the importance of women in natural resource management in countries recovering from conflict. That report, entitled Women and Natural Resources: Unlocking the Peacebuilding Potential, finds that ensuring women’s access to and control of land and other natural resources can improve prospects for long-term peace in war-torn countries.
“Women bear the brunt of conflicts in many ways. They often have to become the sole caretakers of their families and communities and are agents of peace and recovery,” said Phumzile Mambo-Ngcuka Under Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director. “Sustainable natural resource use is the cornerstone of development. Women’s full participation, and access to natural resources, are urgent priorities for rebuilding peaceful societies.”
According to the report, women in conflict-affected countries must often meet the water, food, and energy needs of their communities, and they play a crucial role in the use and management of natural resources. However, these women rarely have the same economic control over these commodities as men, leading to the exclusion of women-and their specific needs-in peace negotiations over land and water. This exclusion often lead to increased vulnerability for women, who are insufficiently targeted by conflict recovery programs, and can undermine recovery efforts. The research conducted by the UN suggests including women in peace negotiations will lead to better outcomes and greater stability post-conflict.
“Women continue to be disenfranchised across the globe particularly in countries that have endured violent conflict,”said Judy Cheng-Hopkins, Assistant Secretary-General, UN Peacebuilding Support Office. “This research shows that when women have a seat at the table and their concerns are taken into account in the management of natural resources, the impacts on families, communities, and peace are positive and significant.”