Liberia: First Rural Women Land Rights Conference Ends in Gbarnga

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Gbarnga, Bong County – Advocacy for women land ownership rights and call to empower women in Liberia were some of the topics that dominated a three-day workshop on the first Rural Women Land Rights Conference in Gbarnga.

The aim of the conference, according to Richlue O. Burphy, the Development & Communications Specialist, is to allow the voices of rural women to be heard and increase their knowledge on the Land Rights Acts of 2018 and other legal frameworks governing women tenure security, which they can influence and contribute to the national agenda of women rights in Liberia.

Burphy said the conference was also intended to stimulate the potential of Rural Women Leaders in a bid to accelerate and amplify their advocacy and influence power holders and authorities capable of responding to women’s demands.

Burphy said the conference was also intended to identify constraints which continue which continue to impede women’s abilities to exercise their land rights.

Speaking also, Stanley N. Toe, Executive Director of the Liberia Land Authority, said the conference should be a cause for celebration for the Land Rights Act, which provides for the land ownership rights of communities with customary land including the rights of women and youth, and which also provides for equal benefits for community members from the natural resources on their  land, as well as rights to land through marriage, rights to land by birth in the community, and other forms of property rights.

“This is also a reason to pause and reflect on the struggles Liberian women, particularly rural women have gone through to reach this historic milestone; and finally, an Inspiration that no matter the challenges, toils and tribulations, women can go far beyond what they have achieved thus far,” he said.

Toe said the progress in women’s rights occurs step by step, and each victory becomes a platform upon which the next may be built. Our shared responsibility, he said, is to keep building until we have raised the enough platforms high enough to transform the very horizons of the Earth.

At the end of the three-day conference, women of Bomi, Bong, and Grand Gedeh Counties, and representatives from Margibi, Grand Cape Mount, Gbarpolu, Lofa, Nimba, and River Gee Counties said they were honored to be part of the first Rural Women Land Rights Conference.

They said  knowledge gained during the past three days  on the rights to Land ownership and how to claim and protect said rights is crucial, indicating that they stand together to fight for this right, believing that power of a united voice from the Rural Women.

With the theme “Secure Land Rights NOW for Women”, the women said they can strengthen their advocacy and compel power holders and duty bearers to serve them with justice.

“It never occurred to most of us, if not all of us that we would have had this opportunity to know that we too have rights like men have, and that we make up the Land Rights puzzle in our families, our communities, and country Liberia,” the women said.

“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 land, but not to claim ownership,” the women, through a resolution, said.

“We are proud to inform you that our three days at this conference were spent well, for we are now aware of our Rights to Land in our communities, towns, and villages,” the women said.

The women said the power to effect change has been inspired by all all Land Rights Actors, speakers, panelists, facilitators who shared our stories and identify with our challenges.

“We the Rural Women of Bomi, Bong, and Grand Gedeh and representatives from Margibi, Grand Cape Mount, Gbarpolu, Lofa, Nimba, and River Gee Counties at this conference are calling on you duty bearers, our chiefs, elders, local authorities, national leaders, civil society organizations, donors, and development partners to stand with us in our advocacy for our Land Ownership Rights,” the women said.

“We call on National Government, especially the President of Liberia, His Excellency George Manneh Weah to make budgetary allocations for the Liberia Land Authority which is the custodian of all Land issues in Liberia, to effectively and without delay, implement the Land Rights Law according to the mandates in the law which was signed by him (on September 10, 2018,” the women said.

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