Land Reform and Changing Gender Patterns in Rural Farmland Ownership


Hart, Tim GB, Margaret Chandia, and Peter T. Jacobs. 2018. “Land Reform and Changing Gender Patterns in Rural Farmland Ownership.” Agenda 32 (4): 111–20.

Authors: Tim GB Hart, Margaret Chandia, Peter T. Jacobs


The implementation of land reform in South Africa intends to bring about equity and equality but has encountered unanticipated or unplanned outcomes that have unforeseen effects for the various actors involved, particularly women. In this paper, we focus on the emerging patterns in gender ownership of farmland made available through the farmland redistribution programme. Analysing data from a mixed methods approach that used a household survey instrument and was followed up with individual and group interviews, we examine the outcomes and consequences of land redistribution with respect to the gender ownership of redistributed land. The findings provisionally indicate that the farmland redistribution programme has influenced ownership patterns that tend to include women into joint land ownership agreements alongside men in far greater numbers than women-only headed households. A review of policy interventions indicates that this joint-ownership outcome was never proposed. It has its own consequences with regard to de jure and de facto ownership of and access to farmland. Furthermore, it is in stark contrast to the policy idea of increasing redistributed land ownership exclusively for women in order to address gender imbalances within land ownership by black farmers. Despite differences across provinces, men as individual owners are the main beneficiaries of land redistribution. Women tend to enter into arrangements with men to acquire land so that they can meet the own-contribution requirements of the redistribution applications. In doing so they now have legal rights, as opposed to customary and common law rights, to this land. The effect of these changing land ownership relationships and patterns requires deeper research across these and other areas of South Africa especially with regard to gender ownership and gender livelihoods at household level.

Keywords: land distribution, gender of landowners, unplanned outcomes, household gender relations, South Africa

Topics: Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Households, Land Tenure, Rights, Land Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2018

© 2024 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at