Women’s Experiences of Land Conflicts in the Context of the Land Tenure Reform Program in Rwanda


Bayisenge, Jeannette. 2015. "Women’s Experiences of Land Conflicts in the Context of the Land Tenure Reform Program in Rwanda." International Journal of Gender and Women's Studies 3 (1): 118-33.

Author: Jeannette Bayisenge


Land is a highly important and contested resource in developing countries, and despite measures taken to ensure gender equality in land-ownership, women experience more land-related conflicts than men. The purpose of this paper is to explore women's experiences of land-related conflicts in the context of the Land Tenure Reform Program in Rwanda. Theoretically, a bargaining approach to land conflicts guides the understanding of the findings and their analysis. Empirical data are mainly collected from 480 women in the Musanze District, using survey interviews, semi-structured interviews and Focus Group Discussions. Findings indicate that only a small number of women reported having encountered land conflicts, which may be related to the culture of not exposing family issues to the public. Land conflicts that women face are mostly related to inheritance, polygamy and the daily management of land and its produce. Women reported that challenges such as lack of legal knowledge, as well as rejection of their claims by their husbands, families and community affect their willingness to pursue claims for their rights. The challenges that women are confronted with while claiming their rights are mainly influenced by the power structure that are based on male supremacy. Consequently, reforms aiming at strengthening women's land rights must be based on a good understanding of social and cultural norms

Keywords: women, land conflicts, land tenure reform, Rwanda

Topics: Conflict, Resource Conflict, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Gender Equality/Inequality, Land Tenure, Households, Rights, Land Rights Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Rwanda

Year: 2015

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