Researchers at the Centre for Gender Studies and Advocacy of the University of Ghana have stressed the need to ensure that gender concerns are addressed in the Land Bill which is being submitted to cabinet for approval.
They found out in their studies carried out in some communities in the Eastern and Greater Accra Regions that large scale land acquisition did not inure to the benefits of women, but only the chiefs and landowners.
The researchers, Dr Akosua Darkwa, Dr Maame Gyekye-Jandoh, and Dr Peace Medie urged the government to strengthen and expand the Customary Land Secretariat for effective and efficient customary land administration.
At a workshop held in Accra on Monday to disseminate the findings of the qualitative study “Interrogating large scale land acquisitions and its implications for women in sub-Saharan Africa”, the Project leader, Dr Darkwa said the study observed both “procedural and distributive injustice”.
She explained that in the negotiation and transaction of large scale lands the community members especially vulnerable groups like women and migrants who had lived their lives on the land were not regarded in the negotiations for the sale of land and sharing of benefits.
Dr Darkwa said there was the need for “downward accountability” in the negotiations over land transactions to benefit women and the community in general.
According to the research, although the presence of large scale firms in the community in agricultural production had created some job opportunities for the local communities, their salaries were very low.
She said the employers were drawn into a “vicious cycle” in which their earnings were used to service loans they had contracted leaving them virtually with nothing.
According to the research, even though the local communities were aware of the “procedure and distributive injustices” in large scale land acquisition, they consider themselves powerless, “they look at the power dynamics and think they do not have the power to effect change …so they look on”.
The study was conducted against the backdrop of local and foreign firms rushing to acquire or lease large expanse of land in the global south for the production of exportable bio-fuel and food, raising concerns over its impact on the livelihoods of the majority of the citizens.
Consequently, a multi-country study funded by the International Development Research Centre had been carried out in Ghana, Cameroon and Uganda to investigate how and under what conditions women could be empowered to effectively participate in the process of large scale land acquisitions.
By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman