Amanda Richardson ’10 First Recipient of Fellowship to Study Property Rights for Women

Amanda Richardson ’10 has been named the first global fellow for the Global Center for Women’s Land Rights.

Amanda Richardson ’10 has been named the first global fellow for the Global Center for Women’s Land Rights, where she will conduct research and fieldwork concerning property rights for women overseas.

The aim of the two-year fellowship, awarded exclusively to a Columbia Law School student, is to support legal professionals helping to improve the lives of farmers and laborers by providing legal aid and analysis in developing countries to individuals and to governments.
The Global Center for Women’s Land Rights is part of the Rural Development Institute (RDI), a non-profit organization that has worked with over 45 governments to secure land rights for women and their families.
“Among the finalists, Amanda rose above the crowd with her demonstrated commitment to women’s and children’s issues through her dedicated legal support to poor and vulnerable groups from New York City to South Africa,” said Renee Giovarelli, Center director.
Richardson will initially move to RDI’s Seattle headquarters, and then structure her own project relating to women’s land rights. She will eventually go to a country that interests her, possibly India or South Africa, in order to conduct fieldwork at the back end of her fellowship. Her interest in land reform started while she was in law school.
“I think it’s a very important area of law right now,” Richardson said. She took classes like Indigenous Peoples' Rights to Land and Land-Based Resources with visiting professor Unity Dow, which prepared her for this kind of research. Richardson also interned in the University of Witwatersrand’s Center for Applied Legal Studies in Johannesburg, where she researched women’s rights and issues relating to property law.
The Fellowship is a new initiative by RDI that started in 2009. It is open to graduates from the classes of 2008-2010.
“We hope this fellowship will help develop a network of professionals who will work at national, local, and international levels to strengthen women’s land rights, giving women an opportunity to change their lives and the lives of those around them,” said Diana Fletschner, a senior land tenure and gender expert at the Center. “When they have secure rights to land, women are better off, and so are their families and their communities. We know this. Now we need the professionals to put it into action.”