According to the European Commission, commitment to gender equality needs to be a constant element in all EU efforts. We too, agree. Gender equality needs to be at the forefront of global social movements, in particular, emphasizing land rights of women. Gender equality in land is vital to the success of women around the globe. Women are half of the global population but are routinely denied their right to land. In response to incorporating gender equality in all EU efforts, the European Union (EU) has updated its current Gender Action Plan to increase the empowerment of women and girls on a global scale.

Since 2010, the EU has placed emphasis on gender as vital to global growth. By enacting the Gender Action Plan, changes in gender policy on a global level are being encouraged. Focus has also been placed on the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals, of which one is dedicated to gender equality; SDG 5.

The first Gender Action Plan was adopted in 2010, but it has fallen short of expectations. Since, the EU has created a new framework, the EU Gender Action Plan (referred to as GAP II) provides the framework and allows a new approach to gender equality through external action.

The largest issue with the first Gender Action Plan was that it lacked focus and tangible results. When creating GAP II four pillars were identified to provide concrete indicators and targets to reach:

  1. Fighting violence of any kind against women and girls.
  2. Economic and social empowerment.
  3. Strengthening voice and participation —focus is placed on increasing women’s participation in policy and decision making.
  4. Shifting institutional culture.

In addition to this pillar approach, every new EU-funded project has to have measureable targets and objectives. The EU is using a wide range of external assistance programs to bolster support and the efficiency of GAP II.

After the first year of GAP II, the annual report has shown the efficiency of this updated program; there were 42 new Gender Analysis Studies prepared by the end of 2016.

In 2018, European Development Days (EDD) are being organized to bring together the EU’s commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment and to raise awareness with three primary frameworks. Of which we are interested in one in particular; “Promoting economic and social rights and empowerment of Girls and Women.” To focus on:

  • Ensuring that work to promote inclusive growth gives due consideration to the existence of an enabling environment for the fair and active participation of women in the economy.
  • Contributing to faster growing economies, whilst preventing human exploitation and reducing instability.
  • It covers a wide range of topics, such as decent work conditions for women and equal access for them to economic resources including; Women/Girls and the Economy and Trade and Women/Girls in the Urban Space (Sustainable Cities).

While these plans may not have an obvious connection to land rights, we see an important intersection with women’s access to land for shelter and achieving the goals laid out in the GAP II. With one of the pillars of GAP II being economic and social empowerment, the growth of female land ownership and the ability for women to own land plays a vital role. We welcome that one of the indicators of GAP II is “number of women and men who have secure tenure of land with EU support”.

And through ‘strengthening voice and participation’ women will be at the forefront of changing policies and land systems around the world. The Solid Ground campaign has placed focus on slum upgrading & disaster resilience, with women in urban areas affected by slums and disasters. While the creation of a Gender Action Plan is important for women around the world, Habitat will continue to focus its efforts on improving land access for millions; in particular women. This year at the European Development Days in Brussels, Habitat will organize a session “Building Solid Ground for Women: Land Rights as Foundation for Sustainable Cities” in the framework of the EU funded awareness raising project “Build Solid Ground”.