RWA Tanzania: Land Advocacy Project Benefits Women Access to Land

The land is ours me and my husband he can’t sell it without my concert, he can’t give or rent to anybody without my consent also he can’t take loan without my consent, anybody who is seeking any kind of engagement with our land obviously will be seeking decision from me and my husband because even when they go to the village council seeking consultation they will ask my husband where is your wife we can’t do anything without her what great honor like this in this community”

She was strongly and confident insisting Oliveter Benjamini Simsokwe (47 years old) a wife of Benjamin Simokwe and mother of 10 children (5fe), she is a farmers’ forum member and leader of Mwati Hamlet from Sandulula Village (Sandulula ward) at Sumbawanga District. The issue of land ownership to women in most areas from Southern Highland of Tanzania was a great illusion dream, where women had no decision at all on land matters at family and village level because community was not supporting it also women themselves was against it because it was like a taboo to them, therefore the community was built on that conception and attitudinal culture of believing land must only have owned and decided by men.

“But it has been different now because now we have accessed Certificate of Customary Right of Occupancy (CCRO’s) of 7 farms with more than 4 acres each and all documents included names of me and my wife, and it was our decision within our family, where through this it shows together ownership of land nothing will be done without two sides consensus” Said Benjamin Simsokwe (57years old) a father of 10 children with Oliveter. 

This greater change has been possible after longtime project engagement by MIICO towards mindset and attitudinal change on the importance of women land ownership and decision making on land issues. 

“Before MIICO with the project of access to land, the issue of women decision making on land matters at family and community was not possible at all, and for us it was like taboo hearing women are deciding on land issues wile men are there, it was very usual  for a woman going to the farm and finding the farm has sold by husband without even telling his wife, also it was very usual a man marrying another wife and giving your land you have been farming for a long time for family food and you can’t say anything, most of women were always being busy finding farm labor to wealthy farmers so that they can get money for buying food for family because no land to farm either the husband sold or gave to another wife. But from 2016 where MIICO started engaging with us educating us on land rights according to village land act of 1999, created a new perception to us towards knowing our position on land ownership and decision making where now we are ahead we have conducted Village Land Use Plan (VLUP) at village level and women have started owning land individually and in a group at family level by acquiring CCRO’s which have given power to women into land ownership decision making, for example now aim a Hamlet leader I have a voice within village council” Said Oliveter 

“Few years ago My wife Oliveter told me she has been selected to be a farmer’s forum member, being honest it was not easily allowing her joining the forum, for me it was misuse of time and also it was an excuse towards full participating on family activities, but later I allowed her and she was started giving me feedback on the importance of land rights by having legal document and importance of including women into legal land documents. After a time, I got the logic and I started also giving education to my fellow at Tugandwe AMCOS where aim a chairman slowly the idea was accepted and we decided to contribute for VLUP and now are accessing CCRO’s.  Awareness on women land ownership and decision making has increased, for example in our village more than 60 Households have included women on CCROs and there are 7 women on Village council” said Benjamin 

As a lessons Oliveter said, greater change will start at home when our mindset and attitude will change, where family will realize the position of women on land.

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