The African Forum on “The Role and Responsibility of Women and Youth in Land Ownership Governance according to Uses and Customs” took place at the Nyeleni Agro-Ecological Centre in Selinnkegni, in Mali, from 5 to 8 December 2019. As a reminder, this international meeting gathers delegates from the platform countries of the CGLTE-AO making up the Organisations of Civil Society from the 14 countries of the Economic Community of West African States active in farmers’ struggle for land-ownership, water and seed, plus Mauritania which is an official member even if it isn’t part of ECOWAS. Chad was also present as a guest, as were traditional and customary chiefs, and local elected officials from various countries.
There were also farming communities and farmers living in Mali who are touched by aspects linked to landownership because they are often victims of the land-grabbing done by multinationals, as everywhere in Africa, in Latin America and Asia, on the fallacious pretext of public interest that is peddled by our respective States, to the benefit of agro-business and real estate developers.
This sub regional meeting enabled the delegates from the national platforms of the CGLTE-AO from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, the Republic of Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo to make an exhaustive inventory of the context of landownership governance, with a focus on the women and youth who play a preponderant role in the economy of our countries and who are often left in the lurch or relegated to the lowest rung of the social ladder – especially when one speaks of landownership dispatching at the rural level for the needs of family agriculture. And this although many studies have shown that they take part as much as adult men do in the management of families.
The floor was given to the delegates and then to the customary and traditional chiefs who, one after another, gave their opinions and viewpoints on the place of women and youth in relation to land-ownership, based on uses and customs. In a written statement of commitment, they also recommended the ways and means for lifting the factors that are blocking the path to an inclusive society, in which all categories of persons (men, youth and women) can participate in growth in peace.
The third part was a high point and the opportunity for the women and young members of the country delegations to appeal to the customary chiefs, the traditional chiefs and the authorities in attendance, for better consideration of their needs concerning a control over land-ownership. These messages were studied in the workshops during which the 300 forum attendees made recommendations in conformity with the central theme.
The CLTE-AO African forum ended in the premises of the Mandé bastion of the mythical Kouloukanfoukan charter, which gave women their full place in the community and public life, with the reading of the declaration made at the forum.
Le paysan noir (The Black Farmer) Senegal.