The Case for Women's Rights to Land in Tanzania: Some Observations in the Context of AIDS


Manji, Ambreena S. 1996. “The Case for Women's Rights to Land in Tanzania: Some Observations in the Context of AIDS.” UTAFITI 3 (2): 11-38.  

Author: Ambreena S. Manji


“In the last two decades, the issue of women's independent rights to land has come to be debated both internationally and in the Tanzanian context. Two decades ago, it is arguable that the issue was barely admissible in the discourse over public policy. The dominant conception of women and land was one which subsumed the interests of women under that of men, and assumed a congruence of interest between members of the family such that men's access to land was thought to also guarantee that of women. With the completion of a number of studies in the intervening twenty years, this assumption has been challenged, and the question of women's rights to land has come to be investigated in its own right. The extent to which the debate has shifted in Tanzania was demonstrated by the International Women's Day celebrations in 1977 where the issue of women and land took a central place. This paper attempts to make the case for women's rights to land, and delineate what is meant by such rights.These arguments are made in the context of, the AIDS epidemic, and I will draw on my observations and conversations with women in the Muleba district of Kagera and my investigation of cases involving land disputes in the Courts,2 to demonstrate the important connections between women's experiences of AIDS and their ability to own, control or manage land. However, it is clear from my research in Kagera that women are faced with disputes and struggles over land in varied and numerous contexts. Therefore, whilst the AIDS epidemic brings into sharp focus the issue of women's rights to land, it is important to remember that even if we were not faced with an epidemic of such proportions and characteristics, the issue of women and land is pressing and is deserves attention. The AIDS epidemic, as I argue below, serves to remind us of the urgency of the issue.” (Manji 1996, 11).

Topics: Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Health, HIV/AIDS, Rights, Land Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Tanzania

Year: 1996

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