By Alvin Worzi
-Says Cecelia Kuetee
The Land Rights Act (LRA), which was passed into law in 2018 by members of the 54th Legislature, will serve as an impetus that will holistically empower women across the country, Cecelia Kuetee, a resident of Nimba County, has said.
Madam Kuetee expressed the hope to see a society where women, who she said have been marginalized, will be empowered, especially with unhindered access to land.
She recently gained access to her father's land and cocoa farm, but said a robust awareness exercise of the LRA and supporting organizations remain pivotal to achieving her goal.
"Our father left land and cocoa farm with us before he died, but Othello Kuetee (senior brother) refused to allow me make farm on the land or even harvest some of the cocoa to enable me cater to some of my needs," Madam Kuetee told the Daily Observer in an exclusive interview at the end of the Training of Trainers (ToT) on gender equality and women's land rights. The training was organized by the Land Governance Support Activity (LGSA) in Monrovia.
The law, which was passed in 2018, is considered a milestone on a regional and continental level as it gives women opportunities to acquire land.
According to Madam Kuetee, her brother Othello was selling the cocoa and using the money without sharing with them; a situation that family members were unable to settle for years.
"This is something that existed for years to the extent that recently, a local-based not-for-profit organization invited him for workshop on LRA, which compelled him to call me and shared the cocoa farm and portion of the land with me," she said.
Today, according to Madam Kuetee, the money collected through the sale of the cocoa is now used to purchase some materials for herself.
Cecelia Kuetee, a resident of Nimba County
The training was intended to enhance the understanding and application of gender dimensions in their land rights work and better comprehension of key provisions of the LRA and family laws pertaining to women's land rights and land governance.
Madam Kuetee said the training indirectly helped her to get a share of her father's property, especially the cocoa farm, and hope that women suffering from similar situations will benefit through education by LRA and partners involved in raising awareness.
She said Othello also encouraged her to engage into serious farming activities, something she continues to appreciate by giving God the honor.
"I have started making farm, and I think the training actually helped our family and, today, I am now involved into farming activities on my own land. These trainings are important for some families, and they have to continue to help address some of the different issues in our communities and the country," she said.
According to Madam Kuetee, the Land Governance and Support Activity (LGSA) has helped her to understand some of the issues associated with land dispute and how to find remedies, adding, "This is my first training on women's land rights and gender equality and I hope to participate in more training."
Ellen Pratt, Commissioner on Land Use and Planning at the Liberia Land Authority (LLA), expressed gratitude to the women for participating in such important training.
"You have shown how passionate you are about women's rights and gender equality. Our champions (the women) already know what they want to do, but just need the support. We need to keep up the momentum and the LLA's doors will always be opened to you," Commissioner Pratt said.
She further encouraged participants to engage into full awareness of the public on LRA, especially women.