The Land and Property Rights of Women and Orphans in the Context of HIV/AIDS: Case Studies from Zimbabwe


Izumi, Kaori, ed. 2006. The Land and Property Rights of Women and Orphans in the Context of HIV/AIDS: Case Studies from Zimbabwe. Cape Town, Zimbabwe: HSRC Press.

Author: Kaori Izumi


In Zimbabwe, as in many other parts of Africa, agriculture is the principal source of livelihood for widows and orphans. Within this reality, a groundbreaking study was commissioned to investigate the land and property rights of women and orphans in Zimbabwe in the context of HIV/AIDS. It also examines the coping strategies, in terms of land-related livelihoods, adopted by widows and other vulnerable women affected by the pandemic. Providing revealing empirical evidence and new insights based on interviews with key informants, focus group discussions and a semi-structured interview questionnaire, the study is framed around four Zimbabwean sites located in communal, resettlement and urban areas Buhera, Bulawayo, Chimanimani and Seke. The research critically examines Zimbabwe’s land and agriculture policies, and the utilization and efficacy of legal redress. It suggests and develops policy responses to cushion the impact of HIV/AIDS on local communities, especially dispossessed women. While confirming the vulnerability of widows and other categories of poor and vulnerable women and children to property rights violation, the study also analyses the critical roles played by women in establishing and managing urban and rural support initiatives. (Abstract from book description)


  • Workshop (convened by FAO, 2004) found HIV and AIDS had weakened the property rights of women and children, because of the stigma associated with the pandemic. Widows told how they had been accused of causing the death of their husband by witchcraft or by infecting him with HIV and AIDS. In this context, evictions of widows and violations of their land and property rights had been prolific. Despite the legal provisions established in the 1997 Administration of Estates Amendment, women’s property and inheritance rights remain vulnerable. This is partly because of persisting traditional practices and norms pertaining to women’s land and property rights, lack of public knowledge about legal rights (not least among women themselves), an inaccessible judiciary and a dichotomy between statutory and customary laws (Intro)

  • The deteriorating health and economic condition of HIV-positive widows and other women on their own, along with the social stigma associated with the disease, have had the additional effect of eroding their power to defend their property rights against claims made by in-laws

Topics: Economies, Gender, Women, Girls, Boys, Governance, Health, HIV/AIDS, Livelihoods, Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Zimbabwe

Year: 2006

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