Kadiatu Ibrahim Kamara (30), a mother-of-two from Malambay community, in Kambia district, Sierra Leone has become the first woman in her family to own land thanks to a new historic Land Rights Act that was passed by the government of Sierra Leone in August 2022.
The Customary Land Rights Act 2022 guarantees women’s equal rights and access to land and bans industrial development in protected, conserved or ecologically sensitive areas.
Previously, Kadiatu and her mother Aminata Bangura were left without land when Kadiatu’s father passed away suddenly. Aminata returned home to her family’s land but was told by her brothers that she was not entitled to a plot on her family’s land because she was a woman.
“My mother was entitled to a plot of land because her father had left it to all his children, but the men in our family said she couldn’t own land because she was a woman,” Kadiatu says.
Trócaire and local partners* advocated for the Customary Land Rights Act 2022 and provided training to women in Sierra Leone to know their land rights. Trócaire and partners were also involved in consultations around land rights during the drafting of the bill.
“The Act is important not only for the access and ownership it provides women and future generations, but also for taking them out of extreme poverty and over-dependency on men,” said Sudie Sellu, Trócaire’s Women’s Empowerment advisor.
Kadiatu received training from Trócaire and ABC and challenged her male family member’s over access to the land.
“I learned that my mother and I could not be discriminated against just because we were women,” Kadiatu says.
“The town chief took our side and said the Land Act supports women to own land. My uncle said he accepted the town chief’s decision to re-allocate the land to me and my mother. Some other male family members argued with the decision, but they eventually came around because of the Land Act.”
“We are very grateful to Trócaire and ABC-D for their training on our land rights. Without the knowledge, we cannot fight for our rights to the land.”
Kadiatu says her family’s life has changed drastically since she received ownership of the land.