Land Registration and Gender Equality in Ethiopia: How State–Society Relations Influence the Enforcement of Institutional Change


Lavers, Tom. 2017. “Land Registration and Gender Equality in Ethiopia: How State–Society Relations Influence the Enforcement of Institutional Change.” Journal of Agrarian Change 17 (1): 188–207.

Author: Tom Lavers


In recent years, the Ethiopian government has introduced reforms to promote gender equality in land rights, including legislative changes and a land registration programme that requires the names of both husbands and wives on certificates. This paper examines implementation of these reforms through a case‐based approach that links national policy processes to analysis of two village‐level case studies, based on fieldwork conducted in 2009–10. In both cases, government initiatives do appear to have enhanced women's land rights to a certain degree. However, the causal process involved is considerably more complex than the direct link between titling and women's land rights that is assumed in much of the existing literature. The cases suggest that government initiatives are contingent upon state–society relations, and that change to informal institutions and power relations within society can constitute an important complement to land registration. 

Keywords: Ethiopia, land tenure, gender, political economy, state-society relations

Topics: Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Land Tenure, Rights, Human Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Ethiopia

Year: 2017

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