Impact of Land tenure systems on women in Sierra Leone

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Content. History and Context settingIntroductionAcquisition of land in the provincesImpact of land tenure on womenThe 2007 lawsImpact of the 2007 laws on womenIssues for Reflection. History and Context setting. Sierra Leone a country started off as a British occupied territory since 1787Bec
Impact of Land tenure systems on women in Sierra Leone

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1. Impact of Land tenure systems on women in Sierra Leone By Christiana Momoh

2. Content History and Context setting Introduction Acquisition of land in the provinces Impact of land tenure on women The 2007 laws Impact of the 2007 laws on women Issues for Reflection

3. History and Context setting Sierra Leone a country started off as a British occupied territory since 1787 Became a British crown colony in 1808 2 systems of Administration existed (Colony and Protectorate) Colony governed by direct rule-Administered by the British Protectorate- Land situated outside of the colony and governed indirectly through Chiefs supervised by British District Officers

4. Introduction In present day Sierra Leone, 2 distinct systems of land tenure coexist within the same geographical divide (English land law applying to the Western Area/ Colony & Customary law applying to protectorate). The colony/Western Area provides for individuals to acquire individual ownership of land through purchase (title deeds) Under the provinces ( sub-divided into smaller administrative units referred to as Chiefdoms ? headed by a Paramount Chief), provincial land use is vested in the Paramount Chief as caretaker.

5. Paramount Chiefs are elected by an electoral college (constituted by 20 tax payers to 1 voter ? tribal authority) very few female representatives are part of the electoral college because women were not allowed to pay tax (although this is now changing) Paramount Chiefs are elected for life There are currently 149 Paramount Chiefs and only 6 out of this number are women This institution is founded on Patriarchy (male lineage; male secret society)

6. Acquisition of land in the Provinces In the provinces there are three ways in which land is acquired Communal, Family and Individual) communal tenure -it seeks to protect the paramount interest of the entire group. The Paramount chief holds the land in trust on behalf of the community.

7. Family Tenure- Family land are acquired when certain pieces of land within a particular chiefdom is vested in a family. Such pieces of lands are controlled by family heads. Family heads are almost always men.

8. Individual Tenure is strange and of modern development. This type of tenure is now scattered throughout the provinces more especially in provincial and other headquarters towns although it has been argued that Individual Tenure is contrary to Customary Law in Sierra Leone. Individual tenure is earned by the following means BY ALIENATION- i.e. through land sale or purchase

9. BY GIFT OF LAND- i.e. land is donated to an individual By partitions- family land is shared among individual family members CUSTOMARY PLEDGE- Land can be pledged to individuals under customary law and can vest paramount ownership on an individual. LEASE OR CUSTOMARY TENANCIE- An individual can acquire an interest in land. The individual land holding does not expire at death but pass on to the surviving children who will have continuity of tenure in the land.

10. Impact of Land Tenure on women Positive Impacts Individual tenure makes it possible for women to own land titles in provincial and other headquarter towns. Women who are economically empowered can lease provincial land for as long as 40 years giving them control of such lands. Economically empowered women can buy land in the Western Area

11. Negative Impacts Grants of land that is being made to investors has implications on poor women farming groups who are normally dispossessed of such land In Sierra Leone all tribes practice a system of patrilineal decent, except the Sherbro who practice matrilineal decent in family holdings. Family heads are almost always males Traditionally the eldest male family member with regards to age, education, power and wealth. Women are most times given user rights

12. The 2007 Laws The laws of 2007 are the domestic violence act, customary marriage and divorce Act and devolution of estates act The Devolution of Estates Act deals with the distribution of the property (land) of a deceased person. It applies when a person dies intestate

13. Impacts of the 2007 Acts on women Positive Impacts The independence of women to own property (land) is guaranteed under the customary marriage Act. Under section 18 of the Customary Marriage and Divorce Act 2007, ?A wife in a customary marriage shall have the capacity to personally acquire and dispose of properties and to enter into contracts in her own behalf.? A woman who has lived with the deceased person at least 5 years before his death, whether married or unmarried is regarded as a beneficiary of the deceased?s property (land).

14. The new law allows for girls to benefit form property (land) from their fathers and brothers. Negative Impacts Law only covers cases from 2007- when laws were ratified. Women can only benefit from their partners (when co-habiting) property (land) in 2013. There is no new law specifically for land yet. Law covers all property including land.

15. Issues for Reflection Banks normally give loans to multilateral cooperation but not to women?s farming groups. Opportunities through the CAADP process omits women focus Agro Business Centres (ABCs). Mining companies and big investors dispossess poor families from land and women suffer the most. Communities argues that women do not utilize land. Chiefs are not willing to have a change in the land tenure

16. Thank You.

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