Secure tenure over land, fisheries and forests is central to global efforts to end poverty and hunger in local communities (and in particular among indigenous peoples and women), and to ensure sustainable management of the environment. Tenure security has also been affirmed as a great contributor to ending poverty and hunger in the world under the Sustainable Development Goal. The livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people, particularly the rural poor, indigenous peoples and women, depend on secure and equitable rights to natural resources, which are their primary sources of food and shelter; the basis for social, cultural and religious practices; and a core economic asset. Yet often, indigenous peoples and women are excluded from the governance of these resources.
ActionAid International has been working over the last few years with women and rural communities to challenge commercialization of land, which leads to loss of their rights to and control over land and other resources. The Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of tenure of land, forest and Fisheries - VGGTs, together with the AU Framework and Guidelines for land policy in Africa - AU F&G, both provide progressive internationally accepted principles and norms for defining policies and practice for governance of tenure that particularly safeguard the interests of the poor and marginalized land dependent sections of society.
To contribute to the push for their comprehensive implementation, ActionAid developed a Toolkit for assessing gender-sensitive implementation of the VGGTs and the AU F&G at country-level. This Toolkit aims to:
- monitor country implementation of the VGGT and AU F&G, with a focus on women and small-scale food producers and rural, agricultural communities;
- incorporate community empowerment and capacity-building to enhance communities’ understanding of the VGGT and AU F&G (and related land frameworks), and build their capacity to advocate for VGGT implementation;
- build understanding of how Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries support and align their actions with the VGGT as they relate to foreign aid, trade and investment programmes that impact on tenure governance in other countries;
- enable concise presentation of results of VGGT implementation as a basis for cross-country comparison, and for tracking changes over time.
This gender-sensitive toolkit enables civil society organisations (CSOs), women and communities, as well as other actors to assess each country’s current legal framework and tenure governance arrangements in line with the provisions of the VGGTS and the AU F&G.
Where it has been piloted, the Toolkit has also proved to be valuable in building communities and other stakeholders’ capacity and understanding and internalization of the VGGTs towards responsible land tenure governance. We therefore hope you will also find the toolkit useful.