Nine traditional chiefs have partnered with USAID and DFID over the last five years to demarcate and document the land rights of 30,000 women farmers across Zambia and Mozambique.
The documents with each woman’s name, the GPS coordinates of her field, and a stamp of approval from the local chief, are proving revolutionary.
Ruth Banda: Suya Village, Zambia
“Before, my field was getting smaller and smaller,” said Ruth Banda, mother of five who farms seven acres of land. “Why? Because people were nibbling away at it. Now it is demarcated. And the problem is resolved. I have no more fears and have planted mango, orange, and guava trees.”
Agnes Mwanza: Fuwe Village, Zambia
“I am a landholder. I am secure,” said Agnes Mwanza. “My brother-in-law didn’t respect me and he tried to push me off my land for nearly 20 years. But now I have a land document. And that he must respect.”
Eunice Zulu: Zoole Village, Zambia
“Before I had secured my rights to land,” said Eunice Zulu, a farmer and mother of nine children, “if I spoke up or disagreed with my husband’s parents or brother they would say, ‘We see you woman. You seem strong. But just wait until your husband is gone. How strong will you be then?’ But now I have documented my land. My name is on the certificate. They can’t chase me away [if my husband passes]. And I can speak my mind.”
Dorothy Zulu: Chimseu Village, Zambia
“Now I am free,” said Dorothy Zulu, a widow was able to hold onto her farm thanks to her land documents.
Tisaine Sakala: Maloemya Village, Zambia
“It feels great to be a landowner,” Sakala said. “I cannot read or write. But I know my name is recorded and I know what it means. When I first held the certificate in my hand, I felt secure, established. I know no one can take the land away from me.”
Chieftainess Mkanda: Zambia
“Everyone wants land,” said Chieftainess Mkanda, a former schoolteacher who now serves as leader of her community. “So, it became a custom to chase widows away and take their land. I have put an end to this practice. Women are entitled to land, to rights, to farm.”