“Women need to unite in their pursuit for land rights”

Women on a farm
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Women on Farms Project has criticised what it calls little institutional support and protection for evicted farm workers. The NGO says many workers spend their lives on farms but have no access to land or security of tenure.

A seminar to discuss how land issues affect women was held at the University of Western Cape this week.  The Women on Farms Project says the eviction of women and children is a common occurrence in the Western Cape.

Project Co-director, Carmen Louw, says there are about 200 eviction related matters pending in the provincial courts.

She says many women farm workers end up in informal settlements.

“Farm workers by large do not own land. They work on farms for generations, they are descendants of slaves who built up the agricultural economy, especially Stellenbosch, Franschoek, the richest municipalities in the province. Yet no proper provisions are made that their lives are secure.”

Ndifun’Ukwazi, another Cape Town-based NGO, also made a presentation on behalf of women demanding affordable housing in urban areas.

Lawyer Mandisa Shandu says:”It’s about special justice, and special justice is at the core and dignity.”

The Women’s Legal Centre says religious marriages are still not legally recognized and many women are disadvantaged when it comes to land issues.

Women’s Legal Centre Seeham Samaai says:”Till today after 1994 we have seen that Muslim marriages, Hindu marriges and Jewish marriages are still not recognised in this country. Even if you were married for 50 years, at the end of the day it says unmarried or single. What does that mean for the dignity and integrity of that woman in that relationship?”

There were calls for women to unite in their pursuit for land rights.