Coordinating land and water governance for food security and gender equality- A paper by Madiodio Niasse

A workshop was held in Pretoria, South Africa on 15th & 16th June 2015. The Workshop entitled: ‘Responding to the Global Food Security Challenge through Coordinated Land and Water Governance’ was held as a collaborative effort of organizations ILC, GWP & IWMI. Presenters from across the globe made focused presentations on the topic.

Based on the papers presented at the workshop,Water Land Environment Consultant Madiodio Niasse – also former director of International Land Coalition, has developed a technical Background Paper for GWP/Technical Committee on Coordinating Land and Water Governance for Food Security and Gender Equality. The paper builds extensively on the Pretoria workshop, making reference on many of the papers presented and discussions during the meet.

The paper deals on how land and water governance are crucial to ensuring food security as well as gender justice.

The GWP Technical Background Paper No. 24 – Coordinating land and water governance for food security and gender equality can be accessed here:

It can also be accessed here: gwp-tec-no-24_web




Submitted to the “Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women”


 CEDAW and Bangladesh

Bangladesh ratified CEDAW in 1984 with reservation to the Article 2 and the Article 16(1)(c),stating the following, “The Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh does not consider as binding upon itself the provisions of article 2, [… and …] 16 (1) (c) as they conflict with  Sharia law based on Holy Quran and Sunna”. Subsequently, Bangladesh also ratified the Optional Protocol to CEDAW in 2000 with reservations on the Articles 8 and 9.

Alternative Report of the Civil Society on the CEDAW

This report issubmitted to the “UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women” by a coalition of 4 International Land Coalition-ILC members, all well-known civil society organizations in Bangladesh on the issue of land rights, agrarian reforms, rights of the indigenous peoples and gender justice;

(1)    Association for Land Reforms and Development (ALRD),

(2)    Association for the Realization of Basic Needs (ARBAN),

(3)    Community Development Association (CDA) and

(4)    Kapaeeng Foundation (KF).

ALRD represents 220 CSOs across Bangladesh. The 3 other sponsor organizations are equally well-known civil society organizations in Bangladesh.

The report only covers select articles of CEDAW; Articles 3, Article 5, Article 7, Article 13, Article 14 and Article 15. This particular focus on select articles is made in view of the organizational focus and mandates of ILC, the lead organization ALRD and the 3 other ILC members in Bangladesh.

Observations on Bangladesh’s Ratification:

In many ways, the two articles of CEDAW that Bangladesh is yet to ratify contain the core message CEDAW. Both articles stipulate for equality between men and women before law and as regards family and civil matters, equality in marriage and its dissolution, and in inheritance, etc. The article 2 also asks for conforming the national constitutions and laws to the provisions of CEDAW in the case of difference between the two.

Bangladesh abstained from ratification of these 2 articles under the pretext of religious traditions. But is it a tenable and justifiable pretext?Undoubtedly, the religious orthodoxy, in particular Islamic religious orthodoxy, remains strong in Bangladesh. But the arguments made by Bangladesh may be open to further debate as to what exactly amounts to “conflict with Sharia law based on Holy Quran and Sunna”. The issue seems all the more relevant given the recent recommendation of the Law Commission to the Government to ratify both the articles. A similar case also can be made for the ratification of the articles 8 and 9 of the Optional Protocol to CEDAW.

Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world with apopulation of 160 million in a territory comprising 155,000 kilometers. The population is overwhelmingly homogenouswith a tiny minority who claim to be recognized as ‘indigenous peoples’. Itis an overwhelmingly agrarian economy. Women in recent years, however, are assuming increased responsibility for the households and in agriculture. This is, although, putting them into a more a vulnerable situation as theyoften are denied of ownershiptitle deeds of land in their name.

The Constitution of Bangladesh stipulates equality before law of its citizens and bans all discriminations based on gender, caste and creed (Article 28). Other articles recognizes equality of all citizens before law, guarantees to all citizens have the freedom of thought, conscience and speech and to undertake measures to remove inequality betweenwomen and men. However, the family laws in Bangladesh that principally deal with the issue of the rights of the women in Bangladesh is very much discriminatory to the women. This cuts across religions and ethnicity; Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and indigenous peoples. Similarly, the plethora of policies on socio-economic development are largely indifferent to the issue of the rights of the women. Some policies such as the National Khas Land Management andSettlement Policy in 1997include clause stating that only women with able bodied son will receive khas land from the government!

The recommendations below are thus made in order for Bangladesh to fulfill wholly its commitment to CEDAW and its constitutional obligations;

1.Bangladesh should make immediate steps for the ratification of the remaining two articles of CEDAW. Along with, it should equally take similar steps for the ratification of the Articles 8 and 9of the Optional Protocol the two articles that it is yet ratify.

2.Subsequently, Bangladesh should take immediate steps to change the family laws recognizing the equal rights of the women of all religious groups and to this end, to adopt a time-bound plan of action for a ‘uniform civil code’ for all the religious and ethnic communities on the basis of the principles of CEDAW.

3.Bangladesh should take immediate measures to invite the CEDAW Committee to investigate and provide recommendations on the state of the rights of women in Bangladesh.

4.Bangladesh also should initiate measures for full ratification of the other UN human rights treaties, conventions and declarations.

5.The Government of Bangladesh should seek revisions of the existing development policies in a time-bound framework in partnership with the civil society and women representatives to incorporate the vision for realization of equal rights between men and women.

6.Bangladesh should immediately undertake a capacity building programme of the concerned government agencies and officials on CEDAW.

7.The Government of Bangladesh should initiate immediate revision of the concerned laws and policies with a time-bound frame to give proper recognition to the women as ‘farmer’ for their role in promoting and sustaining agricultural productions in the country.

8.The revision of policies should be accompanied with commensurate actions comprising of relevant programmes.

9.The Government of Bangladesh should immediately initiate more pro-active actions for inclusion of the marginalized peoples, groups and communities, including the indigenous peoples and indigenous women in its development plans and programmes.

10.While revising the existing policies or adopting new laws and policies, the Government of Bangladesh should make these culturally appropriate and sensitive to the vulnerable socio-economic and political conditions of the marginalized communities, in particular the indigenous peoples. In this regard, the Government of Bangladesh may draw relevant guidance from various international guidelines and policies including the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of FAO.

To read the complete report click on the following:





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Joint Ownership of Land

Under the formal law, women in Nepal can access land through inheritance, land purchase, leaseholds, and government land allocations. The 2007 Interim Constitution states that all Nepali citizens are equal under the law and forbids gender-based discrimination. The Interim Constitution states that daughters and sons have equal rights to inherit ancestral property, and the constitutional mandate of equality takes precedence over inconsistent traditions, custom, and practices (GON Interim Constitution 2007).

In Nepal, only 19.71% women have land ownership. Deprivation of land rights is synonymous with  poverty and denial of rights. During the program and budget of 2010/11, Government of Nepal  made provision to wave registration fees while transferring entitlement to women. As a result, this will increase women’s ownership in land.

 Policy announcement on women’s access to land

Over time, a number of women led land rights campaigns have brought about important changes at national policy level. In a patriarchal country like Nepal, access to land is fundamental to women’s empowerment. Land rights bring about security, independence and confidence, which will  enable women to become active in all social and political arenas. The National Movement for Timely Constitution Writing and Land Reform saw of more than 1,000 poor women (and more than 100 men) from 50 districts descending upon Kathmandu. This historic event saw working women raising their concerns directly with members of the various political parties. The major outcomes of the national mobilization were as follows;

  •   It has been agreed that both the husband and wife would have joint ownership of land provided by the state and a policy announcement has been made which makes it easier for women to be granted joint ownership of their husband’s land.
  •   The Government of Nepal directed the implementation of the joint ownership certificate of land which was announced in the budget speech of 2011/12. Each district has already developed a campaign plan in respect of joint ownership. The issue of joint ownership is also included in the ToR of the Landless Problem Solving Commission.
  •   The cost to the wife of effecting this transfer of ownership is a tax of 100 NPR. In addition a 40% discount in the land registration fee will be granted to village women living in remote areas.
  •   There is a general agreement, from government level downwards, that work will continue to be undertaken over the coming years.

 Second National Conference of Women Farmers

The Second National Conference of Farmer Women was held from 3-5 March, 2013 at Thimura, Chitwan with the participation of 162 women from 48 districts of Nepal. The conference was organized with focused discussion on ‘Women’s Land Ownership and Identity‘. The conference well speculated  women’s issues by announcing the action point. The conference was successful in raising the voice of land poor and women farmer in the domain of ensuring equal land rights. The program was jointly organized by National Land Rights Forum (NLRF) and Community Self-reliance Center (CSRC).

 Third National Conference of Women Farmers 

Organized with the slogan, Land ownership for women farmers’ identity and self esteem’, the third national women’s conference was organized at Thimura, Chitwan on 17th- 18th Mangsir, 2071. Ninety three participants were present in the conference. The major objective of the conference was to establish it as a platform to raise voice against the injustice and discrimination prevailing against women. Women farmers shared their sufferings and challenges through stories. In addition, alternatives were discussed for increasing the identity of women farmers. Discussion was also carried out on the positive changes that occur when women’s land rights are established, how an individual, family, community and nation benefits when women get proper land rights. Further, the importance of joint land ownership was also discussed along with the challenges faced in the campaign. Joint land ownership is associated with gender equality. Awareness is required as the word farmer has always been associated men. A thoughtful debate is required in this issue and hence, the support of men is also required to establish women’s rights. Hence, participation of men was also included in the program.

( To read a detailed report, click the link:

Farmer’s Handbook: A Guide to Government schemes on Agriculture in India

Department of Agriculture Cooperation & Farmer’s Welfare under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer’s Welfare , Government of India has launched ‘A Farmer Friendly Handbook for Schemes & Programmes 2017-18’. The 200 page handbook is a guide to the different schemes & programmes launched and implemented by Department of Agriculture Cooperation & Farmer’s Welfare through the different State Governments. The striking aspect of the handbook is the way it is arranged as per themes related to agriculture.  So rather than clubbing the schemes together, the book has dealt with 12 specific themes related to agriculture: 1. Agricultural Insurance 2. Soil Health & Conservation (including micronutrients) 3. Irrigation 4. Agricultural Marketing 5. Organic Farming 6. Horticulture 7. Seeds 8.Mechanization & Technology 9. Training & Extension for Farmers 10. Agricultural Credit 11. Plant Protection 12. Sustainable Agriculture.

The Handbook gives a very comprehensive idea about each scheme, including providing guidance on how and where it can be accessed.

The handbook is in dual languages : English and Hindi, thus being beneficial to many.

A copy of this handbook is important for every Women Farmer’s Group and every woman farmer , because there are many schemes and subsidies available for women involved in agriculture. Having access to the schemes, women farmers can improve their produce and productivity, function as independent agro-marketing groups and endorse their right over cultivation.

NGOs/CBOs, working for women farmers can access this handbook and provide selective information to the local women’s groups as per the need of the group.

For details CLICK the below

Farmer Friendly Handbook