Building women’s capacity for effective land ownership and inheritance in poor areas, a project with Réseau Africain Pour le Développement Intégré (RADI), Senegal
This project was implemented by RADI to address discrimination suffered by Senagalese women in relation to inheritance and land ownership. Although women’s equal right to inheritance is recognized in the Constitution, certain interpretations of Muslim laws and customary laws continue to discriminate against women in Senegal. The project was undertaken in the Senegal River Valley, using three strategies: (a) social mobilization, (b) capacity building, and (c) advocacy with decision-makers.
RADI mobilized the community on the issue of women’s inheritance and property rights by calling a big meeting involving women and community leaders, including the village head, leaders of the rice, tomato and sweet potato networks, trade leaders, and the press. Materials on women’s rights were made publicly available, including headscarves with printed messages. The male leaders were invited to speak at the event, obliging them to comment on women’s property and inheritance rights, with subsequent press coverage of these statements.
Capacity building was done by RADI’s para-legal and juridical centre, which provides information about women’s land rights. Given the difficulty of communicating with women in rural areas, RADI utilized radio as a means of communication, producing radio programmes to discuss and encourage women to demand land, with phone-in questions and comments from listeners.
As a result of this project, public demands for land have been made for the first time in this locality. An action group, formed under the leadership of a local woman activist and a politician concerned with rural development, made a collective demand to access un-used land, as provided for in Senegal’s 2001 Rural Reform Policy and ten individual women have also demanded for land from the President of the Rural Land Committee. As a follow up, RADI also conducted a participatory evaluation of the project to draw lessons learnt and to formulate actions that can be supported by local project management.
Below see an informational pamphlet on rights in Senegal and a picture of women participants.