Advancing the Role of Queen Mothers in Customary Land Governance in Ghana

In Ghana the rules governing access to, control over, and ownership of, land and landed resources are deeply rooted in customary laws and traditional practices. Traditional Leaders are custodians of customary laws and traditional practices, using these to guide the management, administration and benefit sharing from customary lands. However, discriminatory practices in the principles in customary laws and traditional practices exclude Queen Mothers (Female Traditional Leaders) from customary land administration, management and decision making.

To address the exclusion of Queen Mothers from customary land management and administration, COLANDEF has been working with Queen Mothers to strengthen their capacity in national land policy, customary land administration and advocacy. We have also supported the establishment of a consultative platform for mobilizing and representing the unified voice of Queen Mothers in national policy processes. Our goal is establishing the legitimacy for inclusion of Queen Mothers, and visibility of Queen Mothers in land policy, land management and benefit sharing.

Queen Mothers are highly respected and influential female leaders in many traditional communities in Ghana. They play critical roles in promoting peace, resolving disputes, and safeguarding cultural heritage. However, their role in land governance has been limited by customary laws and practices that often prioritize men's access and control over land and landed resources.

COLANDEF recognizes the potential of Queen Mothers to be agents of change in promoting women's land rights and increasing their participation in land governance. As part of their Land Rights Activities, COLANDEF with support from the Wellspring Philanthropic Fund, has been partnering with members of the Queen Mothers' Platform-Ghana in their respective regions and traditional areas to increase knowledge and awareness on land rights and land rights protection for women. In line with this awareness raising and advocacy, COLANDEF recently engaged the members of the Traditional Council and selected Women's Groups in the Nkomi Traditional Area in the Bono-East Region of Ghana. Members of the Nkomi Traditional Council, the Queen Mothers and Women in the area were sensitized on the new Land Act and opportunities the Act presents for securing women’s land rights, including the collective rights of Queen Mothers as Traditional Leaders.

The engagement is one of many to come. We hope to work with the leadership and members of the Queen Mothers’ Platform-Ghana to advocate for the inclusion of Queen Mothers in customary land administration and in securing women’s land rights. Advancing the role of Queen Mothers in customary land governance in Ghana is critical.