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Women’s Land Rights in Africa: Does Implementation Match Policy?


Sulle, Emmanuel, Sue Mbaya, Barbara Codispoti, Josephine Atananga, Bernard Moseti, and Leah Mugehera. 2019. “Women’s Land Rights in Africa: Does Implementation Match Policy?” Paper presented at Conference on Land Policy in Africa, 2019: Winning the fight against Corruption in the Land Sector: Sustainable Pathway for Africa’s Transformation, Abidjan, November 25-29.

Authors: Emmanuel Sulle, Sue Mbaya, Barbara Codispoti, Josephine Atananga, Bernard Moseti, Leah Mugehera


This paper assesses the performance of selected countries in implementing the provisions of women’s land rights instruments such as African Union Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa and the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure among others. Field research was carried out in seven African countries whereby, in each country a national researcher in collaboration with the collaborating nongovernmental organisation selected three heterogeneous locations which capture the range of situations under which rural women use land. Based on field research results complemented with desk review, the study finds that while statutory laws to protect women land rights are in place in all studied countries, with some differences and, in some cases with existing loopholes, adherence to these laws at the community level remain inadequate. This is particularly evident in terms of equality of rights to inherit land among men and women. Women experience constant threat from clansmen and relatives of their husbands. As also documented elsewhere, in many African communities (although not all), most land-holding systems are male lineage based, with men playing an important decision-making role. Malawi represents a specific case in this regard, as most land-holdings are based on matrilineal systems, but this still is not an automatic guarantee of women having more decision-making power on land. Based on these findings the paper confirms that while impressive steps to address women’s land rights issues have been taken in recent African policies, law enforceability is yet to receive sufficient political backing, due to widespread patriarchal values, limited financial and human resources and last but not least informal rules of the games that are the same drivers of widespread corruption. Patronage, ‘clientage’, illegality and opacity of land transactions find fertile ground in a patriarchal system. Understanding the status, causes and consequences of the de facto ‘unenforceability’ of constitutional and legal provisions in favour of women might shed a light on much broader challenges like those addressed in this conference. Holistic implementation and reforms that 1) address existing loopholes in land laws and regulation, 2) align other sectoral policies, laws and regulations, and 3) use transformative actions to revert patriarchal values in order to bridge the gender gap in property rights, but also to help creating a fairer environment to contribute combating corruption.

Topics: Corruption, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Gender Hierarchies, Land Tenure, Governance, Constitutions, NGOs, Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa Countries: Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Togo

Year: 2019

Ensuring Gender-Equity in Compensation and Resettlement Schemes Related to Commercial Land Investments in Tanzania and Mozambique


Salcedo-La Viña, Celine, and Laura Notess. 2017. “Ensuring Gender-Equity in Compensation and Resettlement Schemes Related to Commercial Land Investments in Tanzania and Mozambique.” Paper presented at the 18th Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty, Washington, DC, March 20-24.

Authors: Celine Salcedo-La Viña, Laura Notess


Large-scale land transfers have a disproportionate impact on women’s land rights. Prior research has shown that women in many countries have limited participation in the decision-making process preceding alienation of land from their communities. This research extends this analysis into the context of compensation and resettlement processes, which are crucial to protecting the rights of local communities impacted by development projects. It does this by examining the relevant law and practice in Tanzania and Mozambique. Both countries have experienced periods of intense investor interest in land acquisition, and have developed some legal protections for the rights of communities to compensation and/or resettlement following land transfers. However, gender-blindness in these provisions permits the perpetuation of practices which negatively impact women’s access to land and overall well-being.

The paper begins by surveying the relevant legal framework for each country, followed by a discussion of compensation and resettlement in practice, informed by a combination of a literature review and field research conducted by in-country partners. It then identifies key regulatory gaps, and proposes specific regulatory reforms to 1) improve women’s participation and representation, 2) ensure women’s inclusion in compensation, and 3) address loss of communal resources and infrastructure in a gender-sensitive manner. 

Keywords: gender, women, land acquisitions, resettlement, compensation

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Development, Gender, Women, Infrastructure, Land Grabbing, Rights, Land Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Mozambique, Tanzania

Year: 2017

Making Women’s Voices Count in Community Decision-Making on Land Investments


Salcedo-La Viña, Celine, and Maitri Morarji. 2016. “Making Women’s Voices Count in Community Decision-Making on Land Investments.” Working Paper, World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C.

Authors: Celine Salcedo-La Viña, Morarji Maitri


The adverse impacts of commercialization and large scale land acquisitions in the global South are often disproportionately borne by women. The loss of access to farmland and common areas hit women harder than men in many communities, and women are often excluded from compensation and benefit schemes. Women’s social disadvantages, including their lack of formal land rights and generally subordinate position, make it difficult for them to voice their interests in the management and proposed allocation of community land to investors. While the development community and civil society have pushed for standards and safeguard policies that promote the meaningful involvement of rural communities generally in land acquisitions and investments, strengthening the participation of women as a distinct stakeholder group requires specific attention.

This working paper examines options for strengthening women’s participatory rights in the face of increasing commercial pressures on land in three countries: Mozambique, Tanzania, and the Philippines. It focuses on how regulatory reform—reforms in the rules, regulations, guidelines, and procedures that implement national land acquisition and investment laws—can promote gender equity and allow women to realize the rights afforded by national legal frameworks and international standards. The paper stems from a collaborative project between World Resources Institute and partner organizations in the three countries studied.

Topics: Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equity, Land Grabbing, Rights, Land Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Mozambique, Philippines, Tanzania

Year: 2016

Large-Scale Land Acquisitions Aggravate the Feminization of Poverty: Findings from a Case Study in Mozambique


Porsani, Juliana, Martina Angela Caretta, and Kari Lehtilä. 2019. “Large-Scale Land Acquisitions Aggravate the Feminization of Poverty: Findings from a Case Study in Mozambique.” GeoJournal 84: 215–36.

Authors: Juliana Porsani, Martina Angela Caretta, Kari Lehtilä


The local implications of large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs), commonly referred to as land grabs, are at the center of an exponential production of scientific literature that only seldom focuses on gender. Our case study aims to contribute to filling this analytical gap. Based on structured interviews and focus groups, we investigate local experiences in the lower Limpopo valley in Mozambique, where a Chinese investor was granted 20,000 hectares in 2012. Our findings show that land access in the affected area varied prior to land seizure due to historical land use differences and after land seizure mainly due to non-universal compensation. Furthermore, we show that as farming conditions deteriorate, a trend toward both the feminization of smallholder farming and the feminization of poverty is consolidated. Succinctly, as available land becomes increasingly constricted, labor is allocated differently to alternative activities. This process is by no means random or uniform among households, particularly in a context in which women prevail in farm activities and men prevail in off-farm work. As men disengage further from smallholder farming, women remain directly dependent on fields that are smaller and of worse quality or reliant on precarious day labor in the remaining farms. We contend that the categories female-headed and male-headed households, although not inviolable, are useful in explaining the different implications of LSLAs in areas in which gender strongly substantiates individuals’ livelihood alternatives.

Keywords: female-headed households, feminization of poverty, gender, land grabbing, large-scale land acquisition, Mozambique's Limpopo Valley

Topics: Agriculture, Economies, Poverty, Gender, Households, Land Grabbing, Livelihoods Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Mozambique

Year: 2019

Gender and Equity Questions in the Policy and Practice of Involuntary Resettlement Due to the Acquisition of Land for Large Scale Economic Investments: A Case Study of Two Resettlement Projects in Maputo Province, Mozambique


Kiambo, W. 2017. Gender and Equity Questions in the Policy and Practice of Involuntary Resettlement Due to the Acquisition of Land for Large Scale Economic Investments: A Case Study of Two Resettlement Projects in Maputo Province, Mozambique. Maputo: Centro Terra Viva.

Author: W. Kiambo


The NGO Centro Terra Viva (CTV) with funding from the World Resources Institute (WRI) implemented a project seeking to promote gender mainstreaming in the policies and practice of large scale land acquisitions (LSLAs) for economic investments. The study was centered on recognizing opportunities to strengthen the role and involvement of women as actors in decision-making in the resettlement process, particularly given the context of a growing economic and commercial appetite for land acquisition.
This report builds upon work done in 2015 by CTV and WRI on women and land use rights in Mozambique. The 2015 study, Gender equity and community participation in the process of decision-making in the attribution of DUAT, examined the degree to which women are involved in community consultations related to the acquisition (by someone external to the community) of land belonging to a community as well as land use rights. It found that though the constitution of Mozambique apportions equal rights to men and women concerning land use and occupation rights, many in communities remain ignorant of this fact. For this reason women in particular bear the brunt of inequality or exclusion where land rights (and attendant benefits) are concerned. The procedures around community consultations were found to lack preparation of the community, particularly women. The communities had not been prepared for the consultations with regard to what a consultation is: the objectives, procedures and expectations of the community consultation process. Traditional practices ensured that men were the main group to freely offer their opinions during public meetings and community consultations. Preparation of both men and women prior to the consultation would ensure that the community was informed of their rights and able to negotiate a better future. (Summary from Land Portal)

Topics: Gender, Gender Mainstreaming, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equity, Land Grabbing, Rights, Land Rights Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Mozambique

Year: 2017

From Under Their Feet - Land Grab Impacts on Rural Women in African Countries


Tandon, Nidhi. 2010. “From Under Their Feet - Land Grab Impacts on Rural Women in African Countries.” doi:10.13140/RG.2.1.1330.1928.

Author: Nidhi Tandon


"Land rights are one part of a complex set of problems and cannot be the sole focus to the exclusion of other factors that threaten not only women’s way of life but also the farming legacy that they will leave for future generations. A good part of women’s needs and empowerment revolve around information and knowledge. This includes providing women with complete and timely information; enabling them to assess (and negotiate) the real value of their land; valuing their knowledge of land and food management; supporting their food crop and land stewardship priorities; bringing the worlds of permaculture and organic farming in solidarity with food sovereignty movements and local peasant farming systems; and enabling women to take a stand and make a choice" (Tandon 2010, 6).
Table of Contents:
1. Introduction to Concepts, Contexts and Realities
2. The Land Market and Implications for Farmers
3. Evidence and Findings from Farmland Frontiers
4. What is the Way Forward... and How? Some Thoughts

Topics: Agriculture, Gender, Women, Land Grabbing Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia

Year: 2010

Gender Implications of Biofuels Expansion in Africa: The Case of Mozambique


Arndt, Channing, Rui Benfica, and James Thurlow. 2011. “Gender Implications of Biofuels Expansion in Africa: The Case of Mozambique.” World Development 39 (9): 1649–62.

Authors: Channing Arndt, Rui Benfica, James Thurlow

Keywords: biofuels, gender, growth, poverty, land abundance, Africa


We use a gendered dynamic CGE model to assess the implications of biofuels expansion in a low-income, land-abundant setting. Mozambique is chosen as a representative case. We compare scenarios with different gender employment intensities in producing jatropha feedstock for biodiesel. Under all scenarios, biofuels investments accelerate GDP growth and reduce poverty. However, a stronger trade-off between biofuels and food availability emerges when female labor is used intensively, as women are drawn away from food production. A skills-shortage among female workers also limits poverty reduction. Policy simulations indicate that only modest improvements in women’s education and food crop yields are needed to address food security concerns and ensure broader-based benefits from biofuels investments. (Summary from Elsevier)

Topics: Agriculture, Economies, Poverty, Education, Gender, Women, Infrastructure, Energy, Livelihoods, Security, Food Security Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Mozambique

Year: 2011

A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Climate-Smart Agriculture Options in Southern Africa: Balancing Gender and Technology


Mutenje, Munyaradzi Junia, Cathy Rozel Farnworth, Clare Stirling, Christian Thierfelder, Walter Mupangwa, and Isaiah Nyagumbo. 2019. "A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Climate-Smart Agriculture Options in Southern Africa: Balancing Gender and Technology." Ecological Economics 163: 126-37.

Authors: Munyaradzi Junia Mutenje, Cathy Rozel Farnworth, Clare Stirling, Christian Thierfelder, Walter Mupangwa, Isaiah Nyagumbo


Climate change and extreme weather events undermine smallholder household food and income security in southern Africa. Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) technologies comprise a suite of interventions that aim to sustainably increase productivity whilst helping farmers adapt their farming systems to climate change and to manage risk more effectively. Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) and a mixed methods approach were used to assess the likelihood of investment in various CSA technology combinations. The data were drawn respectively from 1440, 696, and 1448 sample households in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, covering 3622, 2106 and 5212 maize-legume plots in these countries over two years. The cost-benefit analysis and stochastic dominance results showed that CSA options that combined soil and water conservation management practices based on the principles of conservation agriculture (CA), improved varieties, and associations of cereal-legume crop species were economically viable and worth implementing for risk averse smallholder farmers. A dynamic mixed multinomial logit demonstrated that women's bargaining power, drought shock, and access to CSA technology information positively influenced the probability of investing in CSA technology combinations. This study provides evidence of the importance of cultural context, social relevance and intra-household decision-making in tailoring suitable combinations of CSA for smallholder farmers in southern Africa.

Keywords: gender, intra-household decision-making, climate-smart agriculture, cost-benefit analysis, Southern Africa

Topics: Agriculture, Environment, Climate Change, Gender, Women, Households, Security, Food Security Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia

Year: 2019

Desigualdades de Género em Contextos Rurais em Moçambique: Estudos de Caso em Localidades na Província de Nampula


Agy, Aleia Rachide. 2018. “Desigualdades de Género em Contextos Rurais em Moçambique: Estudos de Caso em Localidades no Província de Nampula.” Trabaalho apresentado na Desafios da Investigação Social e Económica em Tempos de Crise, Maputo, Setembro 19-21.

Author: Aleia Rachide Agy


"Nos países africanos, em geral, e na África Austral, em particular, as desigualdades de género têm sido discutidas tendo em conta os papéis sociais, a gestão dos rendimentos, as disparidades no acesso à educação, à saúde, aos recursos, à informação e à comunicação, bem como a participação nos processos de tomada de decisão.
Nas abordagens sobre desigualdades sociais em Moçambique constata-se que a mulher constitui, frequentemente, o actor mais fraco, particularmente no que respeita ao acesso a recursos, como rendimento ou terra, ou ao nível da participação cívica e comunitária.
Apesar de as mulheres rurais realizarem muitas horas de trabalho na actividade agrícola, em termos de acesso e controlo de bens, tecnologias, insumos e serviços necessários para o desempenho e facilitação dessas tarefas, as mulheres aparecem desfavorecidas. A falta de segurança das mulheres em relação à posse da terra, a concentração dos serviços de extensão na figura masculina (Valá, 2006: 113), as barreiras para a obtenção do crédito comercial e outras formas de discriminação constituem factores determinantes para colocar a mulher no círculo vicioso de baixo rendimento, baixa produtividade, cargas laborais elevadas e saúde deficiente. Os rendimentos baixos (e incertos) das mulheres estruturam-se noutros factores socioeconómicos e culturais, muitos dos quais são importantes para compreender a sua vulnerabilidade.
Os distritos de Monapo e Nacarôa, localizados na província de Nampula, caracterizam-se pela presença de comunidades matrilineares. Todavia, verificam-se fortes mudanças, relacionadas com o casamento, contrariando o princípio verificado por Geffray (1990), matrilocal, segundo o qual, após o casamento, o homem se muda para a aldeia da mulher. Com efeito, nos distritos em estudo, após o casamento, o casal passa a residir nas terras do homem e, mesmo nos casos em que vive algum tempo na zona da mulher, posteriormente o casal transfere-se para as terras do marido ou para as chamadas “zonas neutras”2, facto que foi igualmente constatado por Osório (2006).
Osório (2006: 9-13) explica que esta situação reflecte a perda de influência das estruturas familiares, uma vez que o abandono da matrilinearidade reforça o modelo patriarcal e se traduz num enfraquecimento dos laços entre casais. Constata-se que, mesmo existindo a estrututura matrilinear, o homem é sempre identificado (por mulheres e homens) como o chefe da família e como o dono da terra. Para os homens, ser chefe de família é “educar as mulheres e as crianças”, “vender produtos” e “construir casa”.
Embora existam diversas abordagens sobre temas ligados à cultura e à desigualdade de género, a realidade é que, em regiões de investimento (como Monapo) e de pobreza (como Nacarôa), as dinâmicas culturais estão em constante mutação e readaptação, constatando-se um défice de análises sobre a influência da linhagem ao nível das desigualdades sociais. Por conseguinte, importa analisar o acesso aos recursos de poder como à terra, o acesso e a gestão dos rendimentos, o acesso à educação, bem como aos cuidados de saúde, como factores preponderantes para a emancipação da mulher no meio rural. Assim, a categoria género é utilizada como um conceito que permite trazer ao de cima as relações sociais, as hierarquias de poder subjacentes à convivência de mulheres e homens nas famílias. O uso deste conceito permite identificar os efeitos de diferenças de género configuradas por estruturas de poder, marcadas pela dominação masculina.
Este artigo está organizado em sete secções. Numa primeira fase, a Introdução, em que se apresenta de forma breve o assunto em discussão. A segunda secção faz uma reflexão sobre as desigualdades sociais de género em Moçambique, a terceira apresenta os objectivos e a metodologia. A quarta secção é consagrada ao estudo de caso, em que se descreve o objecto de estudo. Na quinta secção caracteriza-se as dimensões de desigualdade social de género. Na sexta secção são apresentadas as reflexões finais. Por último, encontram-se as referências bibliográficas" (Agy 2018, 369-70).

Topics: Gender, Rights, Land Rights Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Mozambique

Year: 2018

African Democracy and Development: Challenges for Post-Conflict African Nations


Veney, Cassandra Rachel, and Dick W. Simpson, ed. 2013. African Democracy and Development: Challenges for Post-Conflict African Nations. Lanham: Lexington Books.

Authors: Cassandra Veney, Dick Simpson


Various African nations have undergone conflict situations since they gained their independence. This book focuses on particular countries that have faced conflict (civil wars and genocide) and are now in the process of rebuilding their political, economic, social, and educational institutions. The countries that are addressed in the book include: Rwanda, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In addition, there is a chapter that addresses the role of the African Diaspora in conflict and post-conflict countries that include Eritrea, Liberia, and Somalia. The book includes an examination of the various actors who are involved in post-conflict rebuilding and reconstruction that involves internal and external participants. For example, it is clear that the internal actors involve Africans themselves as ordinary citizens, members of local and national governments, and members of non-governmental organizations. This allows the reader to understand the agency and empowerment of Africans in post-conflict reconstruction. Various institutions are addressed within the context of the roles they play in establishing governance organizations such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Sierra Leone, the African Union, chiefs in Liberia, and non-governmental organizations. Furthermore, the external actors who are involved in post-conflict reconstruction are examined such as international non-governmental organizations and the African Diaspora. They both have their own constituents and agendas and can and do play a positive and negative role in post-conflict reconstruction. It is obvious that countries that are addressed in the book are in dire need of financial assistant to rebuild much needed infrastructure that was destroyed during the conflict. All of the countries covered in the book need schools, medical facilities, roads, bridges, airports, ports, and the government does not have the money to provide these. This is where the international non-governmental organizations and the African Diaspora play an important role. The chapters that address these issues are cognizant of their importance and at the same time, the authors realize that sovereignty can be undermined if Africans are not in the forefront of policy and decision making that will determine their future. There are chapters that provide a gendered analysis of post-conflict when it is appropriate. For example, it is clear that women, men, boys, and girls experienced conflict in different ways because of their gender. They all participated in the conflict in various ways. Consequently, the efforts at peace building are given a gendered analysis in terms of what has happened to women and girls in the demobilization and rehabilitation period including an excellent analysis of land reform in Rwanda and how that affects women and members of a certain ethnic group that are often overlooked in the examination of the 1994 genocide. In sum, this book provides a very good contribution to the literature on conflict and post-conflict African countries because of its depth and the vast topics it embraces. It provides an analysis of the internal and external actors, the role of gender in post-conflict decision making, and it provides the voices of ordinary Africans who were affected by the conflict, and who are determined to live productive lives. (Summary from Google Books)
Table of Contents:
1. No Justice, No Peace: The Elusive Search for Justice and Reconciliation in Sierra Leone
Sylvia Macauley
2. The Role of Ex-Combatants in Mozambique
Jessica Schafer
3. Memory Controversies in Post-genocide Rwanda: Implications for Peacebuilding
Elisabeth King
4. Land Reform, Social Justice, and Reconstruction: Challenges for Post-genocide Rwanda
Helen Hintjens
5. Elections as a Stress Test of Democratization in Societies: A Comparison of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo
John Yoder
6. Partners or Adversaries?: NGOs and the State in Postwar Sierra Leone
Fredline A.O. M'Cormack-Hale
7. Chieftancy and Reconstruction in Sierra Leone
Arthur Abraham
8. The Role of African Diasporas in Reconstruction
Paul Tiyambe Zeleza
9. The Role of the African Union in Reconstruction in Africa
Thomas Kwasi Tieku
10. Governance Challenges in Sierra Leone
Osman Gbla
11. Challenges of Governance Reform in Liberia
Amos Sawyer
12. Achieving Development and Democracy
Dick Simpson


Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Combatants, DDR, Gender, Women, Girls, Gender Analysis, Genocide, Governance, Infrastructure, Transportation, International Organizations, Justice, NGOs, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Peacebuilding Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Liberia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia

Year: 2013


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