— Appeal to President Weah for increased budgetary allocation to LLA
Rural Women from 10 of the 15 counties of Liberia have called on the local authorities, national leaders, civil society organizations (CSOs) and development partners to stand with them in advocating for Land Ownership Rights.
Presenting a statement at the end of the three-day conference on behalf of the rural women, Madam Deddeh Kanmoh, head of Lofa County Rural Women organization, said that rural women are having difficulties in owning land due to cultural beliefs or practices.
The conference, which was organized by ForumCIV, aimed at creating a platform for rural women to raise their voices on issues that affect them. It was held on October 26-28, 2020, under the theme: “Secure Land Rights Now for Rural Women”, with support from the Liberia Land Authority (LLA) through the Swedish government.
According to Madam Kanmoh, there is a need for the government to strengthen LLA with increased budgetary allotment to enable the entity to effectively implement the Land Rights Law, something her group claims that will help ensure land ownership for rural women.
President George M. Weah on September 10, 2018 signed the land rights law. The land Rights Policy, among other things, seeks to ensure land ownership for women. In the land tenure reform process, the LLA is working sequentially through issue clusters covering: (1) Land Rights, (2) Land Administration, (3) Land Use & Management, and (4) Land Dispute Resolution (GOL 2012). The question of women’s land rights cuts across each of these clusters.
Madam Kanmoh, whose statement was read under the local theme: “Empowering Community and Civil Society in Liberia,” extended thanks and appreciation to ForumCIV Liberia for setting the platform that makes rural women raise their voices on matters that affect them.
“Our voices to be heard and to increase our knowledge on customary provisions of the Land Rights Act of 2018 and other legal frameworks governing our peace and security, that we can influence and contribute to the national agenda of Women Rights in Liberia,” she said.
“The stories we shared that have to do with challenges and issues around obtaining Land Ownership were identified. In this manner, we’re committing ourselves by using the advocacy skills gained to engage our leaders who are decision-makers. But also, we again depend on all of you for your unwavering support to ensure we achieve success in our endeavors,” she added.
“We, the women of Bomi, Bong, and Grand Gedeh Counties, and representatives from Margibi, Grand Cape Mount, Gbarpolu, Lofa, Nimba, and River Gee Counties are honored to be here with you all at this first Rural Women Land Rights Conference,” she said.
According to her, living in the patriarchal society, it never occurred to most of them, “if not all of us, that we would have had this opportunity to know that we, too, have rights as men have and that we make up the Land Rights puzzle in our families, our communities, and country Liberia.”
“Today, we speak to our fathers, we speak to our brothers, and we speak to our husbands, who still think that we are not candidates to inherit family land or community land; we speak to our chiefs and elders who think that we only have rights to access and use the land, but not to claim ownership,” she said.
She further indicated, “We are proud to inform you that our three (3) days at this conference were spent well, for we are now aware of our rights to Land in our communities, towns, and villages. We have sat long by the creek and thirst for water.
“The power to effect change has been inspired by all of you Land Rights Actors, speakers, and panelists, facilitators who shared our stories and identified with our challenges.”
She said, “the knowledge gained over the past (3) days on land ownership and how to claim and protect rights is crucial. We stand together to fight for this right, believing that the power of a United Voice,” she said.