Cape Town, 14.02.06: Interview with Dr Wallace Mgoqi at his office in the Civic Centre where he'll be city manager for another year. Story Bulelani Philips/Picture Enver Essop

Cape Town - A proposal by the Commission for Gender Equality for the government to provide access or title for one hectare of land to all vulnerable women in the country aims to affirm women and give effect to equity and empowerment legislation.

This is the view of acting Land Claims judge and gender equality commissioner Dr Wallace Mgoqi, who previously served as chief land claims commissioner.

Discussing the proposal with Weekend Argus, Mgoqi said an investigation by the commission had revealed that the situation, particularly for rural women, was dire and “required urgent, innovative and radical action to reverse the legacy of past injustice”.

A commission study of the period 2000 to 2010 had revealed that women constituted 13 percent of land reform beneficiaries. These statistics had not radically changed over the last five years.

“This is an unacceptable situation because it entrenches the discriminatory land use, access and ownership patterns of the past.

“The rules of land-holding reflect the structure of power and beliefs in society, because people who are landless or have weak rights to land are usually those without power, “ Mgoqi said.

”Our proposal is anchored in the equality clause of the constitution and is in keeping with all relevant United Nations, African Union and SADC policies aimed at restoring the status and dignity of women.

“Through this proposal government can create a laboratory for entrepreneurship by ensuring that women become central in our development process and through this uplifting themselves economically and in the process ensuring food security for our nation.”

Mqogi said the One Woman One Hectare approach would “reverse the patterns of patriarchy in this country which is insidious and stubborn and continues to undermine our quest for gender equality”.

While some would scoff at this type of radical proposal, it had already been proven in various parts of Africa and Asia that when women were empowered with access to an important resource such as land, they were able to unlock their entrepreneurial spirit.

“While this proposal has not yet been officially accepted by government, it has already won the hearts of women in various parts of the country, who have used the project concept to secure parcels of land from municipalities, which have already been put to productive use.”

The One Woman, One Hectare proposal has been accepted as a major project of the Rural Women’s Assembly, which has launched an extensive public education campaign.

Mgoqi said the assembly intended presenting the proposal to Minister Gugile Nkwinti of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform on August 9, Women’s Day.

Weekend Argus