Thursday, 19 January 2012

Land Rights: Customary Law and Inheritance as it Affect Women in South Africa.

Customary law unfairly discriminate against women in relations to the allocation of land and tenure of security. Those who are vulnerable are mostly African women. In Africa customs, as captured in several literatures, it is felt that generally women alone cannot hold land: a man must somehow be in charge. The questions of why is regarded as being the eldest son who controls the assets is contradictory, there should be hierarchical stages that even a custom cannot skip even after the father has died leaving the land to the wife who would be considered a widow. There is no uniform custom or practice, that perhaps this are
a of tenure may be in transition. The gender studies also claim that the position of women rights to be secured is vulnerable to abuse by the state system. The approaches to women’s development in developing countries are in a manner that is socially constructed, placing women in certain position according to the roles they play within the society. It is livelihoods that the government policies should be focused on. Rural livelihood (a source of income or revenue) in South Africa are closely related to land and natural resources.

The other analysis on this issue suggested by several authors in the literature is that there should be human right-based approach to the use and control of land by women. The rights of women to agricultural land are treated as a human right by the South African government. The concentration in several literatures in regard to African countries is focused on the land tenure, ownership of rights by women, customary laws or traditional rights of inheritance, an approach of development strategies to be upheld by government and secure of livelihoods (bread winners in the households). The concentration is that the traditional exclusion of women from property and land ownership on gender grounds is most damaging global human rights violation. According to Mutangadura (2004) on a report for Land in Africa conducted in 2004 based on gender, land and inheritance in Southern Africa. She emphasized that rights are important to women and they should know what they are as ‘without rights to and, women’s economic and physical security is compromised’, or threatened. A further statement is the legal preference that men get as from women and that a combination of statutory laws favour male ownership and disadvantage to women’s rights to own land.

There is a need for legal reform of the land programmes and the constrains imposed by customary laws to allow room for women to participate within the decision making regarding their rights as it directed to them and their education in land tenure security. A carefully carried out research shows that at present, the land projects to uplift poor rural women’s position are negative. And exactly what kind of rights should we be talking about? There has been a recent shift in the policy programme from 1997 White paper on land policy and the parallel between the new policy directions. The research further elaborates that the recent formulation of policy, women and in particular the rural poor women stand to lose. Women’s interest and rights in land in the communal areas are threatened by new proposals on tenure reforms. There is evidence within the report on the emphasis that in the last decade to women’s access to land and land tenure security in South Africa has declined {UN-HABITAT: Mechanism For Gendering Land Tools A Framework for Delivery of Women’s Security of tenure, Report 30 June 2006; Strategies and Outline adopted at the High status Round table on gendering Land tools, Nairobi, Kenya, page 15 (Republic of South Africa). That the development drive approach to women’s rights is driven largely by poverty alleviation agenda it has been ineffectual.

The economy is a gender based struggle over land use and how to control it is taken over by men who dislike the work involved in pit constructions, so the system is used only by women to produce food crops. The standpoint is that because of the silenced African knowledge, we tended to move away from it, instead of creating environmental sustainability. Because of the discourse created by the ‘settlers’ the state had been termed on environmental crisis. In a realist discourse, the African case for the return of land was/is constructed with the precision upon a discourse of customary practice rights. In relation to the gender perspective of land, the construction of land in the twentieth century has emerged as long-term sustainability discourse base and agricultural production. There should be security of land rights to be guaranteed on the argument to increase access to land to women and their communal participation of the allocation of land.

On the other hand, it is the customary practice that saw men claiming much more on the allocation of land as resource and a valuable asset to create wealth, in which in African customs women are more in the labour of domestic positions within the family. There is a sense that the law that the government have passed to represent the allocation of land claims especially those to women on a communal base will actually be creating a class of women, two classes to be precise. The classes are those that must negotiate democratic institutions (holding the necessary education) and a class that must negotiate the “traditional” authorities. What about the class that must struggle with power relations within their households? Those women who participate in the communal projects are straddling in tow contradictory process that of a transformative state intent on developing rural economies through market base reforms and that of a neo-traditional power base dedicated to maintaining its privileged position. The South Africa’s rural economic development must realize and redress gender inequalities and the power and knowledge that are needed to gain access to such resources.

In this changing world and through globalization women’s position is ever changing and the way they are treated within their communities. We should try to understand their position and the way in which globalization is occurring in of feminist way and that those feminist attempting to understand the effects of globalization on women’s security go beyond the economic emphasis of neo-liberalism and focus on a broad array of social relations and institutional structures. It is a gender analysis that is required to be adopted and should be used especially in a capitalist country like South Africa. Rural women are most likely not to benefit from policy grant land programmes because of their inabilities to analyse those laws and procedures to be taken. It is necessary to utilize a feminist framework to understand and to transform capitalism in South African society so that a diverse population of women can participate and benefit from its wealth. Gender should be a basic focus as it should be at every level whether personal, organizational and in communities. Thus the development of women’s access to land and ownership should be based on the institutions to be created and implemented by the South African government. These institutions will have to look at the approaches of the land reform policies towards the gender equality regarding access to land either for tenure security or agricultural purposes. Gender rightfully identified the persistence of asymmetric power relations, rather than natural anatomic differences, with women occupying a lesser of dual pairs between men and women. It is through the view of feminist light that gender equality should a fundamental right of women to be struggles in society in a priority on government legislation. Feminism since the 19th century is engaged in changing the world in the way women’s position is seen. There are considerable differences and political strategies to be adopted in social theory between campaigns to get more women in prominent positions in public life.

What is also more at stake are the challenges that women of South Africa are faced with regarding their empowerment skills to tackle the issue within the society. Their benefits will come once they have been empowered to take on the land reform policies with the government that actually does not focus on promoting their access and ownership to land. By empowerment meaning allowing women to be able to became providers for their families including being educated. Traditional customs is also an aspect that many women are faces with that challenge of property ownership within a marriage and limited rights they have because of the embedded cultural norms that limits their positions. Thus the vision of land reform needs to incorporate empowerment objectives and the building of social movement, so that disposed groupings may be active agents in process of democratization and development. The government can condone programmes and land policy plans in place but should also realize the potential of investing in women organization and land based associations. These obligations can contribute to the economics of South Africa and sustainable development of empowerment strategies to be addressed by government legislation regarding land reform.

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