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Women’s land rights and fight against desertification

“Today, nearly half of the global agricultural workforce is female – yet less than one in five landholders worldwide are women.”

There is a well-known problem that has existed for many years all throughout the world about women’s unequal rights to land acquisition. Despite advancements made in the area of gender equality, women still encounter substantial obstacles when it comes to owning, inheriting, and acquiring land. Women have historically been disadvantaged and kept out of positions of power over land. All through the years, this inequity has increased due to discriminatory laws and cultural norms. Despite the fact that many nations have policies and regulations on paper that safeguard women’s land rights, enforcement problems still persist. Unfair treatment of women occurs in some areas where customary norms and customs supersede legal laws. Furthermore, discriminatory inheritance rules frequently deny women their fair share of the property, particularly when male heirs are given priority.

Source: CIFOR

The inability to own land limits women’s access to resources, finance, and career opportunities. It keeps them economically dependent on their male family members and leaves them open to exploitation and poverty. Traditional perspectives that place a higher priority on male inheritance and property ownership continue to discriminate against women. Societies are missing out on the full potential of women’s contributions to sustainable development by denying them equal rights to land. Better agriculture practices, environmental stewardship, and resource management are all associated with women owning land.

The role of women in promoting sustainable agriculture

The contribution of women to agriculture goes much beyond traditional farming. Productivity, creativity, and the sustainability of farmlands are significantly influenced by women. They play a crucial role in establishing global food security, battling poverty, and creating healthy local communities. Recognizing and assisting women in agriculture is important not only for social fairness but also for sustainable development. We harness the potential of women working in this field to bring about long-lasting change for both current and future generations. Women are now leading agricultural initiatives, promoting sustainable practices, and advancing rural development in addition to working on farms.

Agriculture has long involved the active participation of women. From seed selection and planting to harvesting and processing, women help at various points in the farming process. Women make up the majority of the workforce in small-scale farming in many regions of the world, particularly in developing nations. For example, women make up almost 50 percent of the agricultural labor force in sub-Saharan Africa. Women are known to be involved in food preservation, livestock support, cultivation of crops, and post-harvest activities. They play a critical role in maintaining food security for their families and communities due to their extensive knowledge and expertise in farming methods, land management, and crop diversification.

In addition to their contributions on the farm, women in agriculture have become creative business owners who use their drive and creativity to enhance farming methods. They are implementing innovative technologies, eco-friendly practices, and sustainable farming approaches. Globally, women-led projects in agroforestry, hydroponics, and organic farming are gaining traction, supporting conservation and sustainable land use. Rural development is significantly impacted by investing in women in agriculture. Equal access to land, resources, education, and training empowers women to act as change agents and raises their families’ standard of living. Societies can alleviate poverty, improve food security, and spur economic growth by empowering women in agriculture. Also, communities are strengthened, healthcare and education are improved, and social equality is promoted when women are financially independent.

Agriculture as a tool for fighting desertification

Aside from endangering the livelihoods of millions of people, the loss of productive land exacerbates climate change and biodiversity loss. We can lessen the effects of desertification and restore degraded lands through collaboration and innovative strategies, creating the foundation for a future that is more resilient and sustainable. Many innovative strategies and methods have been developed to stop desertification and rehabilitate degraded areas. The main components of these solutions are sustainable land management techniques, reforestation, water conservation, and community involvement. A fast-growing practice that encompasses these solutions is known as agroforestry. Agroforestry is highly important as it provides these results while also serving humankind’s basic needs.

Through a variety of methods and practices, agriculture may significantly contribute to the fight against desertification. By utilizing land restoration techniques, agriculture can help restore damaged land. This usually involves restoring vegetation cover, applying erosion control techniques, and reseeding with native and drought-resistant plant species. The spread of deserts can be stopped, and productive land can be reclaimed by repairing damaged areas. Additionally, planting trees, shrubs, and other perennial plants in agricultural regions can enhance water retention, reduce soil erosion, and boost the amount of organic matter in the soil. Also, agroforestry methods produce microclimates that are favorable to plant growth, lower wind speeds, and offer shade.

Conserving soil moisture, reducing erosion, and enhancing soil health can all be achieved by implementing regenerative agriculture methods such as minimal tillage, cover crops, and crop rotation. Regenerative agriculture aids in retaining moisture and organic matter, both of which are essential for stopping desertification. It does this by reducing soil disturbance while ensuring that crops remain on the soil’s surface. The fertility and health of the soil are maintained by using sustainable land management techniques, including crop rotation, organic fertilizer and pesticide use, and integrated pest management. Healthy soils are better able to endure the stresses of desertification because they are more resistant to deterioration.

Empowering women to help prevent the further spread of deserts

“Women’s land rights should be at the core of everything we do, to enhance our climate action” – Beth Roberts, Director of Centre for Women’s Land Rights.

Women in agriculture are shaping policies that support gender equality, fair trade, and sustainable agriculture through their combined voices. For sustainable agriculture to be achieved and to advance gender equality, women’s empowerment through land rights is essential. In many nations across the globe, women make up a sizable share of the agricultural workforce, playing a key role in global food security. Women who own land have access to resources, allowing them to take part in profitable agricultural activities. As a result, women become more economically empowered, more productive, and generate more income. Also, women who own land are more likely to adopt sustainable farming methods that maintain soil fertility, promote biodiversity, and increase climate resilience. Their participation in land management decision-making processes may result in more environmentally responsible and sustainable agriculture practices.
Women are better able to run their farms, grow a variety of crops, and help ensure the security of the food supply for their families when they have solid land rights. Evidence suggests that these women might raise farm yields by 20 to 30 percent, increasing the total agricultural output in developing nations by 2.5 to 4 percent, provided they had the same access to productive resources as men. As a result, this could lead to a 12–17% decrease in the number of hungry people in the world.