Women’s Right to Land in Post-Conflict Situations: an Opportunity to Overcome Discriminatory Laws and a Tool for Transformative Justice


Martínez, Elisenda Calvet. 2017. "Women’s Right to Land in Post-Conflict Situations: an Opportunity to Overcome Discriminatory Laws and a Tool for Transformative Justice." Paper presented at 5th European Conference on Gender and Politics, Lausanne, June 8-10.

Author: Elisenda Calvet Martínez


The restitution of land in post-conflict situations has been object of increasing interest in the past years due to the importance of safeguarding the right of refugees and displaced persons to return to their homes and places of residence in safe and dignified conditions, with the aim to achieve a just and lasting peace. In situations of post-conflict, women become widowed or heads of household; however, local laws and customs do not recognize them inheritance rights or allow them to own property, which leads to discrimination and it also deprives them of their means of subsistence and of sustenance for their family.

Practice shows that despite adopting gender-sensitive peace agreements and new laws to provide for equal rights for women and men, women’s access to land is still restricted because discriminatory local laws continue to apply and it is very difficult to change traditions, leading to the perpetuation of gender discrimination. Therefore, I argue that addressing women’s right to land in post-conflict situations offers an opportunity to overcome discriminatory laws and build a restitution program upon a more equitable system of property ownership. In this sense, the Pinheiro Principles (UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights, 2005) provide that States should ensure that housing, land and property restitution programs, policies and practices recognize the joint ownership rights of both male and female heads of the household as an explicit component of the restitution process, and that restitution programs, policies and practices reflect a gender-sensitive approach. Moreover, securing women’s land tenure in a post-conflict context may constitute a tool for transformative justice, understood as a process that challenges the inequalities and community structures and looks to integrate both personal and social transformation, which goes beyond restorative justice.

Keywords: conflict resolution, gender, human rights, social justice, transitional states, women, peace

Topics: Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Land Tenure, Households, Justice, Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict, Peace Processes, Rights, Human Rights, Land Rights, Women's Rights

Year: 2017

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