Environmental Studies student presents at 2017 World Bank Land and Poverty Conference

Emily Delaney
April 11, 2017

Sharif Wahab, a Master of Science in Environmental Studies candidate at Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, presented a paper at the World Bank’s 18th Annual Land and Poverty Conference in late March.

As part of the panel titled, “Ensuring Land Policy’s Contribution to Gender Equality,” Wahab presented a paper he co-authored with Dr. Ferdous Jahan from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.\

The paper, “Claiming and Realizing Right to Land: Can Development Organizations Address The Gender Disparities In Bangladesh?” focused on property distribution principles in Bangladesh. According to the report, these principles, connected with patriarchal values and cultural traditions, often result in unequal distributions of land between men and women. BRAC, a non-governmental development organization that works to empower people and communities in situations of poverty, illiteracy, disease and social injustice, is currently focusing on land equality. Under its Property Rights Initiative, BRAC is working to address this issue and ensure equal access to property rights for vulnerable people.

Wahab and Jahan conducted a research project to determine the effectiveness and sustainability of BRAC’s efforts and detailed their examination and results in their writing.

The paper argues that non-governmental organizations, such as BRAC, effectively address the needs of women by raising awareness of gender issues. However, the process for claiming inherited lands can often be challenging for women with little education. The focus now needs to be on gender-sensitive policy advocacy in order to simplify the legal complexities of claiming inherited property.

“Presenting in front of the experts about research I had contributed to was like sharing stories of my country, Bangladesh, to the global audience,” said Wahab, who is working toward a master’s degree. “It was also fascinating to realize how similar the situation is in other neighboring countries, as well."

The theme for the World Bank’s 18th Annual Land and Poverty Conference was Responsible Land Governance – Towards an Evidence-Based Approach. Held March 20–24 in Washington DC, the conference brought together scholars, governments and members of the development community to discuss land policy and research surrounding it.