Women’s rights to agricultural land in State laws, Muslim laws and customary laws, a project with Réseau des Femmes Pour la Paix (REFEPA), Niger

REFEPA’s goal in this project was to give voice to women to assert their rights to property and inheritance in the context of State laws, Muslim laws and customary laws. The project undertook action research in two sites – Hamdallahi and Kollo Zarma – and used the following strategies to achieve the above goal:

  1. Mobilize collective demands for agricultural land by women in relation to a local interpretation of the Muslim practice of wakf[1] which allows local chiefs to allocate land for collective use 
  2. Encourage women to register land to which they have right of use by referring to legal provisions under the Rural Code of Niger, which is gender neutral, and to eliminate gender bias in the implementation of this Code
  3. Mobilise women through dissemination of successful stories of women accessing land
  4. Focus on very specific interpretations used successfully by women, with reference to the Quran and other religious texts

To facilitate and strengthen collective demands for land, REFEPA prioritized democratic processes in community-based women’s organizations, as it was clear that women found it easier to speak as representatives of their organizations, rather than in an individual capacity. The project organised workshops, collected data from two villages, analysed successful strategies, provided information on the Rural Code and its new provisions, as well as produced and disseminated educational multi-media materials.

[1]Waqf is a Muslim term referring to land or property that is endowed for religious or charitable purposes and that is not to be alienated from this dedicated use.