The Network of Women's Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT) on Wednesday called on Parliament to expedite the passage of the Land Bill, with the Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) clauses intact, before its dissolution.
According to the NETRIGHT the present land tenure system had deep rooted structural and systemic challenges that had created gender and class inequalities.
This was in a position paper developed at the end of a two-day national consultative forum in Accra, shared with the media.
Participants at the forum included women farmers, socially-excluded groups and Civil Society Organisations to facilitate a discourse on policy issues and exchange experiences to effectively contribute to the GESI-responsive Land Act.
They said as part of the strategies to sustain and intensify advocacy on GESI provision in the Land Bill, they would identify and mobilise CSOs and women's groups to present a petition to the Speaker of Parliament on the need to sustain the GESI provisions in the Bill.
Participants commended the drafters of the Land Bill for including provisions that promote gender equality and protect the vulnerable in society as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution.
They, however, expressed deep concern about debates that ensued after the submission of the Committee on Land and Forestry's Report on December 2, 2019, which sought to call for the removal of key GESI provisions.
Ms Patricia Blankson Akakpo, the Programme Manager, NETRIGHT, said as part of its contribution to advocate for GESI reforms in the land sector, NETRIGHT, in partnership with its regional focal points and the Law and Advocacy for Women-Ghana (LAWA-GH), was implementing the STAR-Ghana funded project.
It is titled: "Addressing Systemic Barriers to Enhance Gender Equality and Social Inclusion in Land Governance".
The project was to mobilise support for the passage of a GESI Land Act and contribute to evidence-based advocacy for reforms in land governance, to help protect the livelihoods of rural women and socially-excluded persons.
She said other key GESI-related issues on land governance including the cumbersome land registration processes, rights of vulnerable groups, role of women in customary land administration and the role of the Customary Land Secretariats were discussed.
She called on the Government, Parliament and other key stakeholders to, as a matter of urgency, act on strengthening the land rights of vulnerable groups.
She urged the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) to create awareness on all land related legislations, policies and guidelines.
She tasked the NCCE to translate those documents into local dialects and called on government to work with the National House of Chiefs to enforce the Chieftaincy Act, 2008 (Act 749), which seeks to eliminate dehumanizing cultural practices including widowhood rites that deprived women from accessing their rights.
Mrs Shiela Menka Premo, the Executive Director of LAWA-GH, called for action to strengthen the role of women in customary land management, with special provisions such as quotas to ensure that other socially excluded persons played a major role with respect to decision-making in the traditional setting.
She called for adequate resources for Customary Land Secretariats to facilitate the efficient record keeping of land transactions.
The NETRIGHT, in a message, noted that there were several socio-cultural issues relating to land and its governance in Ghana, of which women played a limited role within that context.
The new Land Bill, which was currently before Parliament, therefore seeks to consolidate and harmonise all existing laws on land to regulate its use and enhance its effective management.
The NETRIGHT warned that women and socially-excluded groups were keenly watching and following parliamentary proceedings on the Land Bill, and how discussions on the GESI clauses unfold.
It said it would further engage the Parliamentary Select Committee on Land and Forestry, Women Caucus and other Members of the House for their buy-in and support.
The Network would also embark on robust media campaigns on the GESI provisions and engage traditional, religious leaders and other stakeholders for support.