In efforts to empower women activists championing for the rights of Indigenous Peoples’ (IPs) in Africa, Ogiek Peoples’ Development Program (OPDP) partnered with Land is Life to sponsor their attendance in an Africa regional workshop held in Arusha, Tanzania.
OPDP managed to successfully host five women IPs’ rights campaigners from Kenya and DRC Congo in the three day (October 2-4) workshop themed ‘Access Benefit Sharing (ABS)’, courtesy of the Land is Life’s Indigenous Led Grant.
The workshop was a convergence of IPs rights advocates, State Agencies and experts from 10 African countries well versed in matters of land and natural resources sharing as well as IPs issues.
It gave the women the opportunity to learn more about the existing international, regional and national regulations guiding on the access, ownership and utilization of the natural resources available within the IPs land territories. Also the local based mechanisms to explore in pursuing recognition and respect of IPs rights especially to land and natural resources.
OPDP was able to organize the workshop through the financial support of International Land Coalition (ILC) which has outlined 10 Commitment Based Initiatives (CBI) that shape members’ project implementation. CBI 5 emphasizes on securing territorial rights for IPs, the objective that fully underlines the basis of the workshop.
However, ILC also gives weight to promoting women rights such as enjoyment of land and property rights, an interest area that matches with OPDP’s work and passion.
Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS) which roots from Nagoya Protocol is never discussed in separation from Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), a mechanism which requires consultation with resource owners subject to permission for access and utilization.
ABS and FPIC were primarily discoursed during the workshop giving credence on significance of involving all stakeholders especially the women in addressing concerns arising from reluctance to implementation or non-implementation of both resource-connected mechanisms.
The workshop equally entailed an exchange visit to Selela village in Monduli district where OPDP’s co-host organization in the ABS workshop has capitalized on Tanzania’s laws on land to facilitate issuance of communal title deeds to indigenous community of Maasai.
Selela village council constitutes of 25 members out of which seven are women.It is a legitimate institution recognized in the Tanzania’s legislative framework and which is rightfully bound to legislate and implement territorial laws.
During the council’s meetings, the women’s voice is heard and integrated into the final decisions agreed upon.
Eunice Chepkemoi, OPDP’s Gender and Youth Officer said learning how the women were involved in Selela village council was a best practice picked up from the exchange visit that the women activists would firmly advocate for in their respective endeavors.
“It is an effort made towards the right direction when women are put at the centre of decision making in issues relating to land and natural resources,” she said.
“We are bound to succeed in the fights for IP rights when we have more and more women campaigners at the local, regional and international levels well knowledgeable on the needs and interests of IPs not only in their respective countries but across the world. That is why we continue to prioritize them in our projects.”