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The WPS agenda: Land reform

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Written by Pilar Domingo, Clare Castillejo

Peacebuilding processes involve a wide range of change or reform processes through which the rules of political, social and economic exchange are contested and renegotiated to address the underlying causes of conflict. Reforming the rules governing the access and use of land and natural resources can be a key part of these processes.

The Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda aims to support women’s voice and agency in peacebuilding processes, enhancing their influence and leadership across different reform processes, in order to address the structural gender-based patterns of exclusion which limit women’s rights to use or own land and property. Although UNSCR1325 was passed in 2000, there is as yet little systematic evidence on how, or indeed whether, WPS programming is addressing women’s access to and control over land, property rights, and natural resources, and over decision-making on the policy and legal framing and governance systems of land and natural resources.

There is a need to invest in WPS programming that supports women’s social and economic rights, economic empowerment overall, and specifically in relation to rights relating to land use and ownership. This includes investing strategically in women’s voice and agency by supporting women’s rights organisations and feminist activists at the national and sub-national levels to enhance their capabilities for norm change and political contestation and the rules of land use and ownership in transitions from conflict.

It is important to break out of the WPS silo and work more closely with international agencies to mainstream land reform and its implementation in transition and conflict settings. This includes getting involved in technical details as well as the specific ways in which this can support or impede advancing women’s effective rights to the use and/or ownership of land and natural resources, and to decision-making roles on governance mechanisms.

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