Women’s land rights: Small initiatives have huge impact

Sunday 8 March is International Women’s Day. Eva-Maria Unger is geodetic engineer and works for Kadaster International on women’s land rights. “I see it as an opportunity and privilege to be a woman’s voice to the land administration domain and hence in the recognition and documentation of land rights for women.”

When women control the land

On average, 43% of the agricultural labour force in developing countries consist of women. Yet women rarely own or control land or enjoy tenure security. The land they own is generally smaller and less productive than land owned by men. Although research shows that families are better fed, better educated and healthier when women control the land.

Making an impact at local and global level

Eva-Maria enjoys to combine field work with the development of global policies: “Giving training on land inclusiveness in remote, mountainous areas in Nepal or encouraging equal land rights in the jungle of Sumatra. And then ensuring that these experiences and insights support decision makers and get integrated into global policy development. That’s what I love about my job.”

The importance of land in people’s lives

“In Nepal, I realised how people’s daily concerns are closely related to the land. For many of them, agriculture is their only source of income. This is their way of life and how they for example secure their children’s education. Without land ownership, communities have no security at all and this keeps them, especially women, vulnerable and traps them in a cycle of poverty.”

Increasing participation

“As female engineers we can bring a different perspective and thus innovation to areas like land administration. For example, I aim to increase women’s participation in our project activities. Some women are hesitant, or even not allowed, to talk to my male colleagues and more easily open up to me. We also involve women surveyors, schedule meetings in the evening (after children’s bedtime), take gender into account while collecting data and think about the language we use. All these measures increase participation of women and hence improve project results and support the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.”

Be the change

“Kadaster, with women and men in the board, enforces the “gender equality matters” message. It’s up to every one of us to live equality and equity on a daily base.”