Women's Rights to Natural Resources: A Discussion Paper by New Field Foundation

Published: May 2013

This document presents a discussion of women's rights to natural resources. As human rights increasingly addresses environmental issues, it is important to ask how societies can contribute to the implementation of the rights of women to access and control natural resources. This paper aims to spark discussion and help formulate best practice. It focuses on women's rights to land and water, food and livelihood security, and natural resource management. It includes recent relevant reports and charts from global institutes and initiatives, as well as civil society organizations.

Key Findings

  • Keen to improve their knowledge and capacity as food producers, rural women are establishing their own enterprises.
  • Practices supporting rural women's food and livelihood security include:1. Strengthening the capacity and agency of rural women's organizations according to their priorities 2. Recognizing and counting women's traditional knowledge and activities in local food systems 3. Protecting biodiversity 4. Advancing rural women's rights and resources to secure food and livelihood security.
  • Policies for governing natural resource extraction in the MRU need therefore to recognize the voice and rights of rural women in determining who is able to benefit from the sale of extracted resources by: 1. Prioritizing local licensing of resources 2. Encouraging rural women to organize 3. Granting women's organizations access to licensing their local natural resources.
  • Rural women play a significant role in the use and management of land, water, forests, and livestock. Rural women across the world are organizing to improve their situation, influence policy and realize their rights.
  • Rural women are in a particularly difficult position to determine their future because of their minority rights to land and limited role in decision making.
  • Practices that significantly increase rural women's secure access to land and water include: 1. Documentation and protection of community lands, with specific mechanisms that secure the land rights of women 2. Information dissemination and monitoring of women's land use and rights at local and national level 3. Support for rural women to organize and advocate for secure access to land and prevent land takeovers.
  • Rural women are highly productive, particularly given that they have limited access to land, credit, information, education and technology. The extent of their contribution to household consumption is being more fully recognized and counted, thus changing the picture of rural women's economic activity.

Populations Rural, Women

Complementary Outcomes Food And Nutrition Security

Industries Agriculture/Food Processing

Publishers New Field Foundation

Funded by New Field Foundation