The document focuses on land, violence and the extent to which the bodies of women are misused as they relate to land. It outlines the dynamics that hinder the struggle for women to gain control over land by comparing the rights of women and the customary laws that dictate control over resources. Chapter one discusses issues surrounding women that hinder them from controlling resources while chapter three outlines the continued fight of women for their regarding possession of land. Topics such as gender discrimination and gender-based violence are outlined. Attainment of gender equity requires the government, policymakers and the public in general to implement the recommended reforms as well as ensuring an equal share of the physical resources.
The rights to women especially those in rural areas and their struggle to get land allocation remains a primary concern on issues to land, violence and woman’s bodies. In most societies, women are associated with land and domestic duties while men are given opportunities to work as civil servants. The land is perceived as feminine though women are not given opportunities to control it. The association of women and land has brought the perception that women’s bodies are equal to land (Little, 477). This has resulted in pressures by women groups and agencies fighting for change in ownership, reshaping, reforming and tending the bodies of women as they do on land since the two are related. In South Africa for instance, women have been abused as a result of racial movements that have paid little interests in the rights of women as they look at women as a weak gender that should not be given an opportunity to control resources but used as sex objects to satisfy the sexual desires of men (Little,481). Women’s continued fight for land and their significant contribution to the struggle for liberation in most countries goes unrecognized. They are only recognized through a male lineage that is associated with the land struggles and reforms.
In most situations, the participation of women in land struggles is believed to be invisible since society recognizes only the efforts made by men in the fight for reforms. South Africa is one of the states that are implementing land reforms in its socio-economic reform projects to address historical injustices that are still felt up to date (Ford, Brick, Blaufuss, Dekens, 1358). Though most of the nations do not meet the gender equity minimum threshold, South Africa is on the lead with the government’s policies proposing a declared determination of ensuring that gender equity is attained. The African National Congress policies regarding land ownership provide for the development of procedures of ensuring that women’s access to land and other physical resources are strengthened. Also, the policies ensure that women are given a chance to take part in policy formulation so that and their participation in policy formulation should be enhanced to bring up a society that is sensitive to gender needs.
The policy just like other policies in developed and gender-sensitive states extends the right to women to participate as well as being beneficiaries in land allocation programs. The programme also provides that women should not be discriminated against access to and control of land. The policies also protect physical properties from entry into wrongful controls as well as insulting the land reforms from attacks arising from the constitution.
An approximated 17 million people in South Africa and 39% across the globe live on communal, and that is under the control of traditional leaders whose role is becoming unrecognized due to development of new constitutions in respective countries (Ford, Brick, Blaufuss, Dekens, 1361). Though most nations advocate that traditional land should remain under the control of traditional elders, such proposals tend to hinder women’s access to land. This is because the elders are strong proponents of customary laws which provide that women should till land but should not be given access to its control nor powers to take part in land allocation programs. Such provision demoralizes their fight against discrimination on physical assets.
Also, the book explains that social factors such as gender-based violence, patriarchal family patterns of allocating land and political factors are the root causes of gender inequality in terms of access to and control of land. Domestic violence has perpetuated gender inequalities since women are economically dependent on men and many retain access to land through the partnership lineage (Ford, Brick, Blaufuss, Dekens, 1359). However, violence results at the end of relationships meaning that women will be left with no access, a factor that results in their continued suffering due to lack of resources to foster their survival. Cultural and societal beliefs that are discriminatory may result in gender inequities in land ownership and access by women. Weidman (576) argues that land tenure systems are to be subjected to change to accommodate the changing needs and roles of women in society. Also, patriarchal beliefs and conservative governance structures that undermine women’s struggle in land acquisition should be restructured.
The second theme that arises in chapter three is poor leadership structure that tends to make use of land reserved for communities in personal development. Most leaders, especially in developing nations, do not want to execute the proposed land reforms that give room for equal access to land and control of other physical resources. Men are placed at high positions of leadership where policy formulation and decision making takes place while women are left behind (Weidman, 479). This makes it even more difficult for women to continue with their struggle. In the high positions of leadership, men exercise powers and can dictate how land should be subdivided and women only allowed to implement the decisions made.
Poor leadership in most nations has been reported to be a source of violence against women’s bodies. Over the recent past, cases have been reported of women killed, other raped and others kidnapped because of their quest to look for justice in control of resources. Those in leadership positions use the powers to victimize the poor women from accessing any leadership position that will give them room to pass their desires of controlling land. Also, violence on land has been reported to be caused by poor leadership. The capitalist leaders have installed a number of industries across the globe with the aim of generating income. Though some women are employed in the companies, their presence has nothing to do with advocating for environmental conservation as they are subject to the authority and are required to implement the commands of their male bosses. Industrial chemicals channeled in rivers, dark smoke in the air, overstocked animals in the ranches of the wealthy male leaders and huge lands that are over cultivated with the aim of generating more income are some of the ways that the land has been subjected to violence.
The issue of poor leadership and land violence relates to women bodies. It shows the tensions that exist between women who want to fight for land justice and male leaders who are after getting more money from their capitalistic moves. Furthermore, there tends to be an increase in the marginalization of women from decision making regarding how leadership should incorporate aspects of gender and resource allocation and control. Current leaders still embrace the traditional policies despite the existence of liberal policies and land reform statutes in South African and other developing countries (Weidman, 475). The male’s actions of land overuse and unrelenting control are said to be an act of raping women since land is linked to women and overuse of land is like misuse of the body of women. Failure to put land into proper use is perceived as making women strain as reported by different feminist movements (Ford, Brick, Blaufuss, Dekens, 1363). Most charismatic women leaders have formed movements aimed at changing leadership structures so that women are also involved in state leadership. This is aimed at ensuring that gender equity is achieved and that women get chances of enjoying their rights to land and control of resources.
Also, there has been the formation of environmental and reproductive justice movements to establish the biological impact of extractive and processing industries on indigenous communities and land. Also, there are a number of anti-violent movements that brings together liberal men who are fighting for the rights of the poor. Their role has always been ensuring that women rise to leadership positions which will allow them to make policies that promote gender equity and access to and use of land (Songca, 79). To ensure continued fight of women, Rejoice Mazvirevesa and Kezia Batisai who are women activists argue that women should stand up, share their struggles with a young generation so that the young women can continue the fight and ensure that their rights are granted.
Gender insensitivity and male dominance in society are factors that contribute to gender discrimination against women. Most developing nations have failed to give women access and control over land and other physical resources. Various land reforms, physical resource policies, and gender equity bills, as well as a new constitution, have been put in place to control land use and grant each gender an equal opportunity of access to land. However, the poor governance structures, believe in the traditional customary laws as well as the society’s strong embrace on patriarchal structures has made the reforms fail to be adopted, a factor that has led to continued discrimination against women.
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Weidman M. Women, patriarchy and land reform in South Africa, 2016; Available at Wiredspace.wits.ac.za/bistream/handle/10539/275/22-chapter10.pdf, site accessed 20 November 2018.
Little J. Understanding domestic violence in rural spaces: A research agenda. Progress in Human Geography. 2017; 41:472-488.
Ford H.L, Brick C, Blaufuss K, Dekens P.S. Gender inequity in speaking opportunities at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting. Nature communications. 2018; 9:1358-6.