Promises, Power and Poverty

The rush to invest in farmland in Africa is having an immediate impact on women’s land-use options, on their livelihoods, on food availability and the cost of living, and, ultimately, on women’s access to land for food production. These are only the economic impacts. Women’s knowledge, socio-cultural relationship with the land, and stewardship of nature are also under threat. Too often ignored, rural women’s voices and perspectives need to be heeded urgently if a robust rural economy and food for all are to be guaranteed. Small-scale food production and the women involved in it are the backbone of rural livelihoods.

This briefing paper is based on information from recent case studies of corporate land-based investments in three African countries. It also draws on a wider review of literature and reports from other cases of land deals and land grabs.

Key recommendations from the report:

  • Governments need to make robust interventions to improve women’s rights to land and related natural resources and improve support to women food producers and their ecologically sound production approaches.
  • Investors need to ensure that women are involved in decision-making and their interests are addressed.
  • Development and human-rights organizations need to work with rural women to strengthen their production and build their collective voice and influence.