CEDAW issues Concluding Observations on women's access to land in Cameroon and Sierra Leone
The Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) recently issued several Concluding Observations related to women's access to land in Cameroon and Sierra Leone. The Concluding Observations are a result of Parallel Reports submitted by the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and its local partner Positive Generation in Cameroon.
Regarding Cameroon, CEDAW expressed concern about women living in rural areas, including their lack of access to decision-making processes as well as "land grabbing from indigenous people and small-scale farmers, resulting in the loss of their self-sufficient livelihood, and obstacles to obtaining land titles, including prohibitive land transaction fees, which disproportionately affect women." CEDAW recommended that Cameroon "guarantee the right of indigenous women and women small-scale producers to ancestral and community lands and ensure that they have access to self-sufficient livelihoods" and "ensure that obstacles to land ownership are removed, including by accelerating the land reform, and that domestic courts, including customary courts, apply the Convention, particularly in relation to women’s land and property rights disputes." The Committee also addressed the prohibition on discrimination related to inheritance rights of women.
With respect to Sierra Leone, CEDAW expressed its concern "about the prevalence of harmful practices such as early marriages in rural areas and about the persistence of traditional customs limiting women’s access to land and inheritance" as well as "about delays in adopting the land policy, as well as the lack of measures to address rural women’s vulnerability to land acquisition by multinational mining companies, often resulting in forced evictions, displacement of women, and lack of adequate compensation. " The Committee went on to recommend that "Expedite its efforts in adopting the Land Policy and address the adverse effects of land acquisitions and long-term leases on rural women, and ensure that women are involved in the negotiations of land lease agreements and that their livelihoods are not negatively affected by such agreements."
According to Mayra Gomez, Co-Executive Director of the GI-ESCR, "We are pleased that the CEDAW Committee has issued such strong and clear recommendations on women's land rights in Cameroon and Sierra Leone. The Concluding Observations are very useful to groups working in country to advance these rights for women. Our partner, Positive-Generation, has worked to advance the rights of women affected by HIV in Cameroon and we were pleased to have been able to present a report to the CEDAW Committee on these issues jointly with them."
The next phase of this advocacy will be to work closely with local partners, including Positive Generation in Cameroon and Human Rights Defenders Network in Sierra Leone, to use these Concluding Observations to inform policies and practices at the national level.
The Concluding Observations on Cameroon can be found HERE.
The Concluding Observations on Sierra Leone can be found HERE.
The GI-ESCR / Positive Generation Parallel Report on Cameroon can be found HERE.
The GI-ESCR Parallel Report on Sierra Leone can be found HERE.