The Convergence of HIV/AIDS and Customary Tenure on Women’s Access to Land in Rural Malawi

Citation:

Tschirharta, Naomi, Lucky Kabangab and Sue Nichol. 2015. “The Convergence of HIV/AIDS and Customary Tenure on Women’s Access to Land in Rural Malawi.” SAHARA-J: Journal of Social Aspects of HIV/AIDS 12 (1): 134-46.

Authors: Naomi Tschirharta, Lucky Kabangab, Sue Nichol

Abstract:

This paper examines the convergence of HIV/AIDS and the social processes through which women access customary land in rural Malawi. Data were collected from focus group discussions with women in patrilineal and matrilineal communities. Women’s land tenure is primarily determined through kinship group membership, customary inheritance practices and location of residence. In patrilineal communities, land is inherited through the male lineage and women access land through relationships with male members who are the rightful heirs. Conversely in matrilineal matrilocal communities, women as daughters directly inherit the land. This research found that in patrilineal communities, HIV/AIDS, gendered inequalities embedded in customary inheritance practices and resource shortages combine to affect women’s access to land. HIV/AIDS may cause the termination of a woman’s relationship with the access individual due to stigma or the individual’s death. Termination of such relationships increases tenure insecurity for women accessing land in a community where they do not have inheritance rights. In contrast to the patrilineal patrilocal experience, research on matrilineal matrilocal communities demonstrates that where women are the inheritors of the land and have robust land tenure rights, they are not at risk of losing their access to land due to HIV/AIDS.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, land rights, women, customary, matrilineal, patrilineal, Droits de la terre, VIH/sida, coutumier, femmes, matrilinéaires, patrilinéaires

Annotation:

Topics: Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Hierarchies, Gender Equality/Inequality, Land Tenure, Health, HIV/AIDS, Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Malawi

Year: 2015

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