Let’s Talk Development. By: Chris Jochnick, World Bank, March 19, 2018
Momentum is building behind a land rights revolution. Last year, just prior to the World Bank’s Annual Land and Poverty Conference, I wrote about the many factors pushing land to the top of the global agenda. To maintain this momentum we must pay greater attention to gender and women’s land rights.
Land is more than an important asset in the fight against global poverty and gender inequality. For most people living in poverty, it is an essential, indispensable means to leading a healthy, safe, and productive life. Despite this, hundreds of millions of people who depend on land around the world – especially women – lack access or secure tenure rights to it.
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has some of the most important historical and cultural sites in the world, and stunning natural landscapes. Couple these incredible assets with the region’s famous hospitality and rich culinary traditions, MENA is an ideal destination to grow travel and tourism, and harness its power for development work. However, MENA is behind other regions in women’s agency, economic opportunities, workforce participation and more. This presents a unique opportunity to leverage tourism to bridge the gender gap in the region. Gender differences in unemployment rates are particularly exacerbated in the West Bank and Gaza, where the overall economic situation is bleak due to instability, and gender dynamics are and exacerbated by the conflict.
When Agnes became a young widow with four children still to raise, many people in her community thought she would have to take her children out of school. But education is important to Agnes and to support her family, she turned to business and became a cross border trader.
“I buy millet in Uganda and sell it in Kenya,” she explains. “In Kenya, I buy sugar and then bring back to Uganda.”