Helping rural women engage in land reform

  • Amount funded: £182,710
  • Year: 2019
  • Duration: 48 months
  • Locations: South Africa
  • Grant stream: Annual Grants Call

The voices of women have been largely absent from land-reform discussions between the government and farm dwellers.

Project partners
Association for Rural Advancement
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How we are helping

Supporting our partners to ensure the meaningful inclusion of women in decisions about land allocation and reform.

About the project

Many farm dwellers in South Africa are faced with income poverty from low wages, diminishing opportunities to work, and inadequate access to services. South Africa has been undergoing a comprehensive land reform programme to redress inequity in land ownership and unlock the economic potential of land. The country’s government is committed to continue to accelerate the pace of land reform.

Farm dwellers, and groups representing them, have been engaging in land reform processes in South Africa, raising awareness of the challenges they face and proposing recommendations to address them. However, the voices of women farm dwellers have been largely absent from these discussions.

This project will bring the voices of 100 women living on farms in the uMgungundlovu District Municipality to current discussions on the land policy and legislative framework in South Africa. This will be achieved by:

  • establishing and strengthening women farm dweller groups and supporting them to develop a common vision to guide women-centred advocacy initiatives
  • building the capacity of women to understand and assess existing and proposed land policies and legislation, including current discussions on the expropriation of land
  • promoting women’s access to and participation in decision making spaces to advocate for their needs; this will include engagement in farm dweller groups, participation in development planning processes led by municipalities, and participation in national land reform processes
  • supporting women to express their needs and priorities using creative expression, including art, theatre, and a documentary to be produced by farm-dwelling women.

This project will build on a six-month pilot project implemented from May-December 2018, which worked with 12 women who were part of a district-wide farm dweller rural democracy structure known as Siyanqoba. The pilot sought to understand the barriers to women’s participation in policy making and advocacy spaces. During the pilot project women farm dwellers formed a dedicated women’s group at district level known as Qina Mbokodo.

The proposed project will build on the recommendations from the pilot to meaningfully include women’s voices in discussions on farm dwellers needs and priorities, and to provide dedicated spaces for women living on farms to discuss issues that affect them and develop strategies to address these issues. It will also strengthen Siyanqoba and support the development of women-centred groups at local level, which will work closely with Qina Mbokodo to bring women’s voices to current debates.

By the end of the project, women farm dwellers are expected to have a better understanding of land policy and land reform processes in South Africa. It is hoped that women living in farms will be better placed to engage in discussions on issues that affect them, through the women-centred groups that would have been strengthened during the project.

Project Partners
Association for Rural Advancement

Association for Rural Advancement is a land rights organisation working to support marginalised black rural people since 1979, with a focus on farm dwellers in and around the uMgungundlovu District Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal. It empowers farm dwellers to act on their own behalf and participate in all matters that affect them.

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Governance Areas
Local governance