The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development is pushing for gender parity in land ownership in the region.
At a July 28 meeting in Nairobi, seven ministers from member states signed a document titled Regional Women's Land Rights Agenda, which will serve as the foundation for improving policies and the legal environment for gender equality on land ownership, and addressing cultural and religious practices that prevent women from owning land.
The document, which took two years to prepare, seeks to change the current situation where only between two to seven percent of women in Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Djibouti, Uganda, South Sudan, and Ethiopia own land titles, despite more than half of them working in agriculture.
Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, executive secretary of Igad, said that skewed land ownership is the region's oldest disease and that gender disparities must be addressed if the region is to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union Agenda 2063.
“While Igad countries have enacted legislation to address the imbalance in land ownership, women continue to face discrimination as a result of cultural practices. Women's land rights must be improved,” said Dr Gebeyehu.