Gender Inequalities in Ownership and Control of Land in Africa: Myth and Reality


Doss, Cheryl, Chiara Kovarik, Amber Peterman, Agnes Quisumbing, and Mara van den Bold. 2015. “Gender Inequalities in Ownership and Control of Land in Africa: Myth and Reality.” Agricultural Economics 46 (3): 403–34.

Authors: Cheryl Doss, Chiara Kovarik, Amber Peterman, Agnes Quisumbing, Mara van den Bold


Lack of clarity behind measurement and interpretation of statistics on gender and land leads to an inability to clearly articulate a policy response to the potential inequalities faced by women and men. This article sets out to explore, conceptually and empirically, the levels and relative inequalities in land rights between women and men in African countries. The first section of the article engages in a conceptual discussion of how to measure gendered-land outcomes, what ownership and control mean in different contexts, and why attention to these factors is important for the development of gender and land statistics. The second section of the article systematically reviews existing evidence from microlevel large sample studies to summarize recent trends in land access, ownership, and control by sex. The third section presents new statistics from a variety of nationally representative and large-scale unpublished data on gender and land in Africa. Results provide not only a nuanced understanding of the importance of measuring land indicators for gendered development in Africa and globally but also new statistics on a variety of land outcomes to aid stakeholders in the discussion of gender-land inequalities.

Keywords: gender, land, property ownership, bundles of rights, Africa

Topics: Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Land Tenure, Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights Regions: Africa

Year: 2015

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