We know that land is the most important resource for rural women. Despite the 1999 Land Act [no 4 and 5], reviewed in 2002 by the government of Tanzania, most women in Mtwara and Lindi still have poor access to land. The Act provides opportunity for all people above the 18 years of age to access, control and own land. Women play a prominent important role in agriculture, rural development and food security; it follows that access, control, ownership and income form this resource are essential to their success. In the past couple of weeks, the Pathways Tanzania team, in collaboration with Mtwara Paralegal Centre, has been working to increase land ownership knowledge among our Impact Group and representatives from Village and Ward Authorities. A total of 239 participants from Lindi and Mtwara were trained on Land Act of 1999 RE 2002. The participants were given the opportunity to learn about the rights afforded by the Act, including the process of land occupancy application, rights of land occupancy for women, and who can apply to occupy land.
Suzanne Hokororo, from Rahaleo village in Nachingwea was one of the participants who attended the women land rights training. She explained that it was hard for women in their village to claim land rights because they were unaware of the process for land ownership. Suzanne articulates what most believe, “A man is the head of the family, he has power to sell a plot of land without consulting his wife and use the income to marry other woman or spend the remaining amount to buy alcohol and a little amount to buy fish for family consumption.” But now on she does not tolerate that kind of behaviour- and she doesn’t have to- because she knows the land act says both men and women have equal opportunity on land ownership. She knows what steps to take to get the deed and where to go to claim her land rights. She has started to introduce other women in the village to the benefit of securing a land title deed, and she plans to do so for herself. Having the deed deed will allows her to sell land without any obstacle, access loans from Microfinance institutions, and resolve land disputes. She is very thankful for the Pathways program for opening the mind of the women and she promise to be the champion to other women in a village on defending rights to land.
– Contributed by Christina John, Program Officer Business Advisor, Pathways Tanzania