- Prof. Dr Heba Allah Essam El-Din Khalil is a Professor of Sustainable Urbanism at the Department of Architectural Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Cairo University, with an academic and professional experience of more than 15 years. She is also the Senior Coordinator of the Architectural Engineering and Technology AET program at the Faculty of Engineering, Cairo University.
- She has pursued scientific research in various fields, including community development, participatory evaluation, informal areas development, energy efficiency strategies, sustainable urbanism, affordable housing, quality of life, strategic planning, urban metabolism, urban climate and integrated urban systems with more than 25 publications including books and journal papers.
Special Focus on Leading Voices on Women’s Land Rights in Africa
How important is it for women to lift each other, and what does that mean to you?
Within the current inequitable world, women must stick together and support each other. Whether it is promoting awareness about gender equity issues, disseminating information about relevant opportunities, providing mentorship, or building the capacity of women, supporting gender equity shapes a fundamental part of my ethos.
Why do you think equity is important for women in land rights?
Land rights symbolize issues of power within society. Hence, improving women’s access to land is vital in empowering them economically and socially. As more than 35% of households in Egypt are female-headed, this indicates the importance of women’s improved capacity as it reflects society’s overall well-being.
Do you think the field of land governance has succeeded in incorporating women, conceptually and institutionally?
Various efforts have been exerted to incorporate women in land governance issues. However, there is still a gap between the conceptual frameworks and reality that stems from prolonged and systematic exclusion. Institutionally, there is still much to be addressed and achieved, from building the capacity of women to undertake various responsibilities and represent their stakes in the decision-making processes to facilitating their infiltration into the existing institutional setups and hard-held convictions that have been long governing. Additionally, with their different land governance dynamics, much work is needed on the ground, both within urban and rural communities.
What do you hope to see in terms of progress and change in the field of land governance and women’s land right policies over the next few years?
I aspire to see more capacitated women in decision-making positions and see housing programs prioritising women’s tenure. Additionally, I hope laws protecting women’s land rights are implemented and reflected in real projects with increased resources and institutional and societal support.
What advice would you offer to young women who are interested in pursuing a career in the land/ land governance sector?
My advice for young girls and women is to study well and to profoundly understand the underlying structures that inhibit women’s access to land so that they can better devise responsive interventions. I would also advise them to pursue this career and equip themselves with the knowledge of related technological tools and software and the soft skills needed for continuous negotiations and discussions with various stakeholders. Additionally, and most importantly, I would advise them always to remember the vulnerable and underrepresented and how they are working to improve their livelihoods when faced with challenges or obstacles along their paths.