UNDP Resident Representative to the UAE participates in the 1st Arab Land Conference in DubaiFeb 27, 2018
Dubai, UAE, 27 February 2018 – The United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative to the UAE, Frode Mauring, participated as a panel speaker on the second day of the First Arab Land Conference that was launched on the 26th of February in Dubai. The High-Level Panel was around women and land with examples from the Gulf and the Arab world.
The panel, moderated by Ms. Zena Ali Ahmed, Director of UN-Habitat Regional Office for Arab States, also involved the following panelists – alphabetically-: Ms. Jebri Radhia, President of the Union Nationale De la Femme Tunissiennes (UNFT), H.E. Mabrouk Kourchid, Minister of State Domain and Land affairs in Tunisia, Ms. Majdah Ali Rashid, Assistant General Director of Dubai Land Department, and Mr. Michael Taylor, Director of the International Land Coalition.
Panel members shared their experience and expertise on a range of topics including land rights for women, relations between access to land and poverty eradication, sustainable development, gender equality, and more. This year's conference - themed "Towards Sustainable Urban Development" - and its recommendations ecourage woment to take a greater role in changing the course of their own lives and in being a force for change in their communities.
Frode Mauring, focused in his intervention on why access to land for women is important and how it contributes to social and economic development as well as peace and equality. “Access to secure and legal property is not only a right, but is also a way for economic empowerment” said UN Resident Coordinator. According to a joint publication by the UN Human Rights Office and UN Women, over the past ten years alone, at least 80 million hectares of the world’s land have been acquired in large-scale land deals. Yet, within this context, it is reported that only 1% of the world’s women own land. Mauring highlighted the importance of women having equal access to land and property to achieve gender equality and women empowerment, because otherwise they do not have equal rights for economic empowerment.
He pointed to the state of equality in the MENA region where an estimated 25 million urban women lack equal constitutional and statutory property rights. Mauring referred also to the work of the Peruvian Economist, Hernando de Soto, who identified channels through which insecure and poorly defined property rights stifle economic development.
“We should always be reminded that affording women equal rights to economic resources such as land and property are vital targets to realizing Sustainable Development Goal number 5 which is Gender Equality. We can’t have equal rights or Women Empowerment without women having equal access to land and property” said Frode Mauring. He confirmed that equal access to land and ownership were at the heart of economic development.
Mauring shed light on the human rights’ aspect to the matter. Access to land for women is a basic human right according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in its Article number 17 which states that:
- Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association n with others.
- No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
“It is not just a human rights issue; it is a tremendous waste of the world’s human potential. By denying women equal rights, we deny half the population a chance to live life at its fullest. Political, economic and social equality for women will benefit all the world’s citizens”, said Mauring. Equitable access to land is a human rights issue and, as the UN Economic and Social Council Commission on the Status of Women states, “land rights discrimination is a violation of human rights.
UNDP Resident Representative reminded the audience that the Sustainable Development Goals reflect the importance of women’s rights to land and property, setting a specific target for equal rights to ownership and control over land by 2030. Women’s equality and empowerment is not only one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, but also integral to all dimensions of inclusive and sustainable development. In short, all the SDGs depend on the achievement of Goal 5.
Mauring brought examples from the Gulf region to elaborate about women in Arab states when it comes to access to land and property where most of the countries have equal laws and regulations for both women and men. “There are equal legal rights but in practice there’s a big difference when it comes to access to land. Awareness is key through education and having social role models who serve as advocates and pressure groups to speed up the process towards Gender Equality and Women Empowerment “
In his closing remark, Frode Mauring emphasized on the significance of the social dialogue that includes women on land policies, the importance of raising awareness, and the cruciality of having more structured data on land ownership including that on land grants disaggregated on gender.
Soha Afify - Communications Team