MONROVIA, LIBERIA – September 23, 2021 – UN Women is partnering with the Liberia Broadcasting System to conduct community dialogues on; the rights of women to land and, gender roles and masculinities in eight Counties in Liberia namely, Grand Cape Mount, Sinoe, Maryland, Nimba, Margibi, Grand Bassa, Bong, and Lofa.
The first community dialogue will be held in Grand Cape Mount on Saturday, 25 September 2021. Representatives of women’s groups, women peace huts, multi-stakeholder platforms, youth groups, and land committees are expected to participate in the community dialogue which will also be aired on community radio stations.
“The community dialogues are aimed at raising awareness on women’s land rights and influencing change in the dominant traditional cultural perceptions and the narrative that land-related matters and peace building are a masculine domain,” says Jennifer Mbithi, UN Women Gender and Land Management Specialist. “The community dialogues are also aimed at correcting misconceptions and stereotypes on gender roles and encourage women’s active participation in decision-making processes,” she says.
The Land Rights Act which ascended into law on September 19, 2018, states that every Liberian citizen including men, women, and youth, has the right to own land regardless of identity, custom, ethnicity, tribe, language, gender or otherwise.
Women’s land rights are human rights, and therefore must be protected and respected. The Land Rights Act provides for equal rights specifically for women to access, use and own land and that land governance is inclusive and supports women’s leadership and participation in decision-making processes on land matters.
Women rights to land have been violated in the past through denial or simple marginalization. Predominantly, the Liberian Land tenure system is strongly rooted in traditional and cultural practices and customs that exclude women and marginalized groups from land ownership and constrain their participation in decision-making forums at community, local and national levels.
The communities dialogues are therefore meant to remedy this by helping women understand their rights to land and subsequently ensuring that they exercise these rights, explains Ms. Mbithi.
A perceptions study conducted by UN Women Liberia in 43 communities in Grand Cape Mount, Sinoe, Maryland, and Nimba counties, to assess the understanding of communities and individuals on gender, human rights and land rights issues, revealed deep-seated gender inequalities on roles as well as access to and control over resources and decision making, at the household and community levels.
The study was conducted under the Peace Building Funded project ‘Sustaining Peace and Reconciliation through Strengthening Land Governance and Dispute Resolution Mechanisms, includes a Perceptions survey and, a Gender and Power Analysis and reveals the persistence of traditionally held cultural norms around the role of men and women in Liberian society as well as their rights.
At the household level, women’s roles are largely relegated to that of a homemaker, and they are subservient to male heads of households as related to decision making.
On land matters, the study revealed that Liberia has made significant strides in terms of its legal and policy framework towards ensuring gender equality and the protection of women rights including around land matters. Liberia’s Land Rights Framework is found to be gender-responsive, however, on the ground, more work needs to be done on education and implementation of existing laws.
Specific recommendations were also made for continuous long-term grass-roots awareness-raising activities around land rights and gender equality. The community dialogues are therefore intended to address this.
UN Women is the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. UN Women is supporting the Liberia Broadcasting System to conduct community dialogues with funding support from the Norwegian and Swedish Embassies as well as the Peace building Fund and Multi-Partner Trust Fund.