Location: Brazil
Profession: Academic & Activist

What does a land rights shero look like? She stands up for what she believes in, empowers those around her and gives them voice. She might ensure that women’s land rights are being protected and guarded, and every once and a while, that their concerns with regards to these rights are being heard by all!  To us, a land rights shero looks a lot like Raquel Ludermir.  

Raquel is currently pursuing her doctoral degree, looking at how gender inequality affects women’s land rights in urban contexts specifically.  The inspiration for this work came to her during her time spent in urban settlements in her native Brazil, where she came to the harsh realization that almost 75% of the population living in some of the most vulnerable and precarious urban settlements are women, yet the stories of these women often go unheard.

“While the focus tends to be on rural women’s land rights, it occurred to me that this is something that needs immediate attention. Salary gaps are staggering for women here, most of whom resort to working in the informal contexts with no social security, in addition to the burden of unpaid work.  In a society that tends to treat land and housing as a “commodity”, a combination of economic, social and political factors are challenging women’s land access and tenure security also in urban areas. Inequality and actual violence against women is felt very astutely at the intra-family level, but unfortunately this it is not always captured by official data.”

Raquel is working for both Habitat for Humanity International (Latin America & the Caribbean) and Brazil, where she is dedicated to community empowerment and advocacy with duty bearers at the local level, while at the regional level she manages the open and collaborative knowledge platform Suelo Urbano, part of the Solid Ground Campaign. Well over half of the users of the Suelo Urbano platform are women and the Solid Campaign works tirelessly to ensure that women are able to understand when and how their tenure rights are being violated!

We are grateful to say that she and her colleagues have partnered with the Land Portal on several occasions, with Habitat for Humanity serving as an important focal point on a dedicated section to women, slums and urbanization hosted on the Portal.  More recently, this longstanding partnership took the form of an online discussion on urban land conflicts in the Latin America & the Caribbean region.  The discussion managed to involve over 20 organizations working on the issue and these initiatives encourage a speaking out and up about urban land rights by women and for women!

With this being said, her hope is that:

“Women’s voices can reverberate loudly in all spheres, and that we can capture and speak out about inequality happening at the household levels, community and local levels, and bring these stories to the highest levels and political branches.”