A Rural Women’s Assembly delegation met with the Acting Municipal Manager for the Swellendam Municipality on 7 September about the One Women, One Hectare campaign demands and how secure access to land for women is a countermeasure against Gender-Based Violence (GBV). While the meeting took place inside the Swellendam Municipality offices, other members of the Rural Women’s Assembly gathered outside for a picket. The women sang songs spreading the message about the One Woman, One Hectare campaign with passersby.
“What stood out for me is that all the rural women who attended the meeting spoke out. They each had a chance to explain what is happening in their own communities and what their struggles are. And the key issue is how the municipality will engage with the women to give us access to land,” says
Reinette Heunis from the Rural Women’s Assembly. Heunis explains that women’s financial independence is an important part of combating GBV. When women have access to land they can grow food for their families, sell the surplus on local markets which enables financial independence and strengthens local economies.
In the meeting, the women also took the opportunity to also discuss the implementation of United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP). UNDROP provides an opportunity to implement the human rights of small-scale farmers, producers and people working in rural areas, including the right to food sovereignty, and redress for systematic and historic marginalisation. Heunis says the municipality agreed to share the land audit of Swellendam which will show where land is available.
“The way forward is that on September 28, there will be a follow-up meeting and RWA will make a 15-minute presentation to other provincial departments such as Rural Development, Agriculture and Public Works. So, I think it’s a step in the right direction.”