Liberia: AFELL, AWDF Hold Conference On Women Land Rights, Inheritance Law

The Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL) and the African Women's Development Fund (AWDF) Lesson Learned Outcome on the Land Rights Act and Inheritance Law showed improvement in women's rights in Lofa and Grand Gedeh Counties.

It can be recalled the Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL) with funding from the African Women's Development Fund (AWDF) in February, 2019 conducted training of trainers' workshops in Zorzor and Salayea Districts, Lofa County and Putu/Tiama and Zai Town, Grand Gedeh County for one hundred and twenty (120) participants on the Land Rights Act and Inheritance Law.

As a follow-up, experience sharing and lesson learned conferences were held in Salayea, Lofa County and Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County June 1 and 5, 2019 which brought together over 80 participants comprising traditional, religious, women, men and youth leaders as well as local authorities, community-based organizations (CBOs), and the Justice and Rule of Law actors.

During the conference, participants narrated several positive outcomes which they saw as direct derivatives of the TOT Work among other positive results.

Participants made revelations: "Traditional leaders are now aware that widows have the rights to inherit and administer their deceased husband's property without interference of in-laws. Therefore, in settling dispute, the issue will be taken into consideration. The practice for women to be accompanied by men to either acquire land or use farmland is being addressed by the traditional leaders in Zoror and Salayea, Lofa County. A single woman is given the right to discuss with her chief regarding community land for farming without a male accompanying her."

They also said "The issue of refunding dowry is being practiced in Zorzor and Salayea, Lofa County. The women said the fear and threat of refunding dowry have kept some of them in abusive marriages. On the order hand, the traditional leaders said they have understood the law on divorce as it relates to traditional marriage. Therefore, promised to abolish the practice of refunding dowry during divorce. Before the Land Right Act, a woman who was married in another community, could not be automatically accepted as a community member until certain traditional ritual or demands are met. For instance, joining the Sande society. The women who find themselves in such category and others are excited about the land right law; because it gives an automatic right to a woman to become a community member upon marriage."

The conferences ended with several recommendations including the need for AFELL to establish sub-offices in some districts; and scaling up the inheritance and land right training in other districts.

The Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL) is a non-profit, non-governmental, non-political and pro bono organization birthed on 24 February 1994 under the ravages of Liberia's extensive and brutal civil war. The mandate of AFELL is to advocate for the promotion, protection, and advancement of the rights of women, children, and indigent persons.

On October 2018, the African Women's Development Fund approved a grant of US$20,000USD for nine (9) months to AFELL to promote women's rights to own property through building the capacity of women to assert themselves and claim their rights. AFELL's implementation of the project took a two-prong approach. The first activity comprised series of TOT workshops with participants from 29 communities in Salayea, Zorzor (Lofa County), Putu/Tiama and Zai (Grand Gedeh County); and the second consisted of two lessons learned conferences.

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