Property Rights

Women’s Land Rights in Africa: Does Implementation Match Policy?


Sulle, Emmanuel, Sue Mbaya, Barbara Codispoti, Josephine Atananga, Bernard Moseti, and Leah Mugehera. 2019. “Women’s Land Rights in Africa: Does Implementation Match Policy?” Paper presented at Conference on Land Policy in Africa, 2019: Winning the fight against Corruption in the Land Sector: Sustainable Pathway for Africa’s Transformation, Abidjan, November 25-29.

Authors: Emmanuel Sulle, Sue Mbaya, Barbara Codispoti, Josephine Atananga, Bernard Moseti, Leah Mugehera


This paper assesses the performance of selected countries in implementing the provisions of women’s land rights instruments such as African Union Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa and the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure among others. Field research was carried out in seven African countries whereby, in each country a national researcher in collaboration with the collaborating nongovernmental organisation selected three heterogeneous locations which capture the range of situations under which rural women use land. Based on field research results complemented with desk review, the study finds that while statutory laws to protect women land rights are in place in all studied countries, with some differences and, in some cases with existing loopholes, adherence to these laws at the community level remain inadequate. This is particularly evident in terms of equality of rights to inherit land among men and women. Women experience constant threat from clansmen and relatives of their husbands. As also documented elsewhere, in many African communities (although not all), most land-holding systems are male lineage based, with men playing an important decision-making role. Malawi represents a specific case in this regard, as most land-holdings are based on matrilineal systems, but this still is not an automatic guarantee of women having more decision-making power on land. Based on these findings the paper confirms that while impressive steps to address women’s land rights issues have been taken in recent African policies, law enforceability is yet to receive sufficient political backing, due to widespread patriarchal values, limited financial and human resources and last but not least informal rules of the games that are the same drivers of widespread corruption. Patronage, ‘clientage’, illegality and opacity of land transactions find fertile ground in a patriarchal system. Understanding the status, causes and consequences of the de facto ‘unenforceability’ of constitutional and legal provisions in favour of women might shed a light on much broader challenges like those addressed in this conference. Holistic implementation and reforms that 1) address existing loopholes in land laws and regulation, 2) align other sectoral policies, laws and regulations, and 3) use transformative actions to revert patriarchal values in order to bridge the gender gap in property rights, but also to help creating a fairer environment to contribute combating corruption.

Topics: Corruption, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Gender Hierarchies, Land Tenure, Governance, Constitutions, NGOs, Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa Countries: Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Togo

Year: 2019

Empowering Women Through Land Rights: Connecting Economic Empowerment, Control Over Assets, and Sexual Negotiation Within Kisumu County, Kenya


Shaffer, Madison. 2019. “Empowering Women Through Land Rights: Connecting Economic Empowerment, Control Over Assets, and Sexual Negotiation Within Kisumu County, Kenya.” Paper presented at APHA's 2019 Annual Meeting and Expo, Burlington, VT, November 2-6.

Author: Madison Shaffer


This project aims to gain a greater understanding of the current state of women’s land rights in Kisumu County, Kenya. It will discuss how current interventions are impacting women’s empowerment and their ability to negotiate safe sex. Property rights can provide women with a secure place to live, a place of economic activity and reduces dependence on men. Property ownership can also serve to empower women and “give them greater bargaining power at the household, individual, and community level...increasing agency” (Dworkin,2009). Unfortunately, men have almost always been favored in land rights in traditional land allocation and in customary law. In 2010, Kenya’s new constitution, article 60, eliminates gender discrimination in law, customs, and practices related to land. Since this, little research has evaluated the relationship between land rights and female empowerment in a Kenyan context. Through the Kenya Demographic Health survey data I was able to formulate semi-constructed interviews, and a questionnaire to analyze the impact land rights has on women’s empowerment. Empowerment was measured on a 0-1 scale based off a set of indicators drawn from the World Bank (Malhotra et al., 2002). Regardless of the clear legal standards now in place, gender-biased public attitude and limited utilization of legal services still lead to women systematically being denied their rights to land. This project utilizes Fundamental Cause Theory to describe how interventions that involve the community through legal training and education on human rights can help support women’s land claims and lead to empowering women in their own sexual, and nonsexual, health going forward.

Topics: Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Health, Reproductive Health, Rights, Reproductive Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Kenya

Year: 2019

Property Rights, Intersectionality, and Women’s Empowerment in Nepal


Pradhan, Rajendra, Ruth Suseela Meinzen-Dick, and Sophie Theis. 2019. “Property Rights, Intersectionality, and Women’s Empowerment in Nepal.” Journal of Rural Studies 70: 26–35.

Authors: Rajendra Pradhan, Ruth Meinzen-Dick, Sophie Theis


Property is widely recognized as an important resource for empowering women. Many development policies worldwide therefore call for strengthening women’s rights to property, especially to physical assets such as land and livestock. However, the relationship between property and women’s empowerment is more complex than generally assumed because of the overlapping and dynamic nature of property rights. In this paper, we explore how property rights affect the empowerment of women at different stages of the life cycle and different social locations, ethnicities, household structures, and social classes, using the lens of intersectionality. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted for the “Evaluation of the Welfare Impacts of a Livestock Transfer Program in Nepal,” we examine patterns in women’s strategies to exercise specific rights over joint and personal property within their households. The findings show that legal categories of property rights in Nepal fail to account for nuanced rights to assets shared within households. Rather than emphasize individual control over assets for women’s empowerment, the social relations around property need to be considered to understand which rights women value. The paper makes recommendations for how research and development projects, especially in South Asia, can avoid misinterpreting asset and empowerment data by incorporating nuance around the concepts of property rights over the life cycle.

Keywords: gender, Property Rights, life cycle, intrahousehold, empowerment, intersectionality, Nepal

Topics: Gender, Women, Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Nepal

Year: 2019

Toward Everyday Practices of Gender: Implications of Feminist Political Ecology for Gender Mainstreaming in Korean ODA


Nam, Souyeon. 2018. “Toward Everyday Practices of Gender: Implications of Feminist Political Ecology for Gender Mainstreaming in Korean ODA.” Asian Journal of Women’s Studies 24 (4): 463-88.

Author: Souyeon Nam



This paper suggests feminist political ecology (FPE) as a knowledge resource for policy makers, practitioners, and researchers involved in Korean gender equality-focused ODA (Official Development Assistance) programs. Since Korea joined the OECD in 2010, its government has endeavored to incorporate gender mainstreaming into Korean ODA programs. This has generally taken the "topdown approach," (i.e., shifting the practice of official institutions in ODA agencies of the donor country to recipient countries). However, social and cultural contexts of recipient countries have received little attention in assessing what the outcomes would be in these. This paper reviews feminist political ecology, which has examined multi-scalar gender politics and considers the importance of social and cultural contexts of developing countries, in order for Korean ODA programs to embrace things in a nuanced way regarding gender politics. This paper argues for the potential of FPE as an effective tool for these programs that relate to gender. It proceeds as follows: first, it critically examines characteristics of Korean gender equality focused ODA. Then it reviews what FPE is about, including four themes of feminist political ecology: property rights, gender division of labor, women knowledge resource for policy makers, practition on its review, the paper discusses ways in which feminist political ecology can generate insights for researchers and practitioners involved in the ODA programs of Korea.


연구는 한국 젠더 관련 ODA 정책실무자 연구자들에게 페미니스트 정치생태학을 유용한 연구분야로 제안한다. 2010 한국이 OECD 가입한 이래, 한국 정부는 ODA 프로그램의 젠더 주류화를 향상시키기 위해 노력해왔다. 이에 있어 공여국과 수여국의 ODA 관련기관 제도적 환경을 변화시키는 상향식 접근이 주를 이루었다. 그러나 수여국의 사회문화적 맥락을 고려한 평가에 대한 관심은 상대적으로 제한적이었다. 이에 따라 연구는 개발도상국 특정 지역들의 사회문화적 맥락을 고려한 다중스케일적 젠더 정치를 다루는 페미니스트 정치생태학을 고찰한다. 이를 통해 맥락성이 상대적으로 결여된 젠더 관련 한국 ODA 프로그램을 보완함에 있어 페미니스트 정치생태학이 통찰력을 제공할 있음을 제안하고 있다. 이를 위해 먼저 페미니스트 정치생태학을 재산권, 성역할분담, 여성 권한강화, 여성의 주관성 가지 주제를 중심으로 살펴본다. 다음으로 페미니스트 정치생태학이 폭넓은 민족지학적 현장연구를 기반으로 개발도상국 사례연구를 중심으로 구축된 분야인 만큼, 이러한 기반이 부족한 한국 젠더 ODA 정책수립 연구에 기여할 있음을 보인다. 또한, 국제사회에서 한국이 지니는 특수한 위치로 인해 한국의 젠더 ODA 관련 연구 역시 페미니스트 정치생태학에 기여할 있는 잠재력을 지님을 연구는 지적하고 있다.

Keywords: feminist political ecology, Korean ODA, gender mainstreaming, gender politics, social and cultural contexts

Topics: Development, Feminisms, Feminist Political Ecology, Gender Mainstreaming, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Livelihoods, Rights, Property Rights Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: South Korea

Year: 2018

Not Affected the Same Way: Gendered Outcomes for Commons and Resilience Grabbing by Large-Scale Forest Investors in Tanzania


Gmür, Désirée. 2020. “Not Affected the Same Way: Gendered Outcomes for Commons and Resilience Grabbing by Large-Scale Forest Investors in Tanzania.” Land 9 (4): 122.

Author: Désirée Gmür


The topic of large-scale land acquisition (LSLA) has attracted wide interest in the literature and the media. However, there is little work on the gendered institutional changes and gendered impacts on common pool resources (CPR) due to LSLA. The aim of this paper is to address these impacts. This is done by discussing data from participatory research (using the methods of participatory observation, semi-structured and narrative interviews, biographies, focus group discussions, value chain analysis, and household questionnaires) on a forestry plantation operated by the British investor, the New Forests Company (NFC) in the Kilolo district, in the Iringa region. The institutional arrangements regarding different land-related common pool resources from pre-colonial times until the arrival of this investment will be shown. Furthermore, how these arrangements have changed over time and since the LSLA is presented. Then, the effects on men’s and women’s access to CPR and, thus, the impacts on their capacities to perform their reproductive work and resilience will be addressed. Furthermore, the paper focuses on how different stakeholders in the land deal (the investor, the government, different local people) make use of these different institutions to push through their own interests regarding the land. Finally, the paper looks at collective compensation payments (such as monetary compensation and jobs) and forms of corporate social responsibility (CSR) schemes, and how they are perceived emically. It is argued that the LSLA in this case clearly grabs land and land-related common pool resources that were previously held in common. Women, such as daughters, sisters, and wives, had specific access and property rights to these. Thus, the paper concludes that this grabbing lowers women’s resilience and deprives them of important resources for their livelihoods, and for food and cash production at critical times. CSR programmes and compensation rarely reach women and are, for them, an anti-politics machine, hiding the grabbing processes, and impacting the poorest of the poor, while the company uses a development discourse to legitimise its activities. In fact, the people perceive the investment as trapping them in underdevelopment.

Keywords: large scale land acquisitions, gender, institutions, common pool resources, common property, land tenure transformations, corporate social responsibility, social anthropology, resilience

Topics: Development, Gender, Land Grabbing, Rights, Property Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Tanzania

Year: 2020

Las mujeres rurales y su derecho a la tierra: retos de la política pública en Colombia


Gómez Mendoza, María Juliana, and Luisa Paola Sanabria Torres. 2020. "Las mujeres rurales y su derecho a la tierra: retos de la política pública en Colombia." Trabajo Social 22 (1): 85-104.

Authors: María Juliana Gómez Mendoza, Luisa Paola Sanabria Torres


El presente artículo es resultado de una experiencia en la formulación y ejecución de la política pública de restitución de tierras y del acompañamiento al programa de ordenamiento social de la propiedad rural de la Agencia Nacional de Tierras. La incorporación del enfoque de género en estas políticas involucra tres elementos centrales: el reconocimiento de las mujeres como propietarias de los predios, el aumento de su participación en espacios de decisión y la promoción del recono- cimiento de los derechos de las mujeres entre los funcionarios públicos.
The article is the result of an experience in the formulation and execution of the land restitution public policy and the accompaniment provided to the program for the social organization of rural property, carried out by the National Land Agency. The incorporation of gender mainstreaming into these policies involves three main elements: recognition of women as owners of the properties; increased participation of women in decision-making spaces; and promotion among civil servants of the recognition of women’s rights.


Keywords: derecho a la tierra, discriminación, enfoque de género, política pública, tierra, discrimination, gender mainstreaming, land, public policy, right to land, women

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender Mainstreaming, Land Tenure, Governance, Political Participation, Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2020

Gendered Power Transformations in India’s Northeast: Peace Politics in Nagaland


Manchanda, Rita, and Seema Kakran. 2017. "Gendered Power Transformations in India’s Northeast: Peace Politics in Nagaland." Cultural Dynamics 29 (1-2): 63-82. 

Authors: Rita Manchanda, Seema Kakran


As the middle space for ‘post ceasefire-cold peace’ politics expanded in Nagaland in India’s Northeast, the Naga women’s question has emerged as symbolic of the intense social churning in traditional hierarchies around three sites of inequality: decision-making in the public sphere, patriarchal customary laws and property rights. The article tracks the shift in Naga women’s peace politics, from motherhood politics to asserting more equal modes of citizenship, and explores the emancipatory potential of Naga women’s emergence in the public sphere as key stakeholders in the peace process within a context of growing tensions in the relationship between gender and ethnicity.

Keywords: customary laws, ethnicity, gender, Naga, peace politics, power

Topics: Ethnicity, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Post-Conflict, Peace Processes, Rights, Property Rights Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2017

The Influences of Gendered Customary Land Tenure System on Food Security in Nandom District, Ghana


Doghle, Kizito, Justice Owusu-Ansah, and Paul Boniface Akaabre. 2019. "The Influences of Gendered Customary Land Tenure System on Food Security in Nandom District, Ghana." African Journal on Land Policy and Geospatial Sciences 2 (1): 71-88. 

Authors: Kizito Doghle, Justice Owusu-Ansah, Paul Boniface Akaabre


Food insecurity has been a major global development concern. Hence, SDG Two seeks to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030. The situation is severe in sub-Saharan Africa, where customary practices deprive women of land ownership and limit their access rights. This paper explores the influences of a gendered land tenure system on food security in Nandom District, adapting conditional assessment modules defined by USDA and FAO. With a list of households categorized under headship, 30 respondents were proportionally selected from each of the four study communities. The results from the survey of 120 households show that female headed households experienced extreme and severe conditions of food insecurity while male and co-headed households experienced less, resulting from differences in land ownership and access rights. Further analysis of the situation underscores the need to promote equal ownership and access rights for all gender groups to fight food insecurity and poverty in Africa. 

Keywords: Customary land tenure system, gender, households, food security/insecurity, Nandom District, North-Western Ghana

Topics: Economies, Poverty, Gender, Land Tenure, Households, Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights, Security, Food Security Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Ghana

Year: 2019

Derecho a la tierra y empoderamiento económico de las mujeres rurales en El Salvador


Navas, Candelaria. 2015. “Derecho a la tierra y empoderamiento económico de las mujeres rurales en El Salvador.” Serie Documentos de Trabajo 159, Grupo de Trabajo: Desarrollo con Cohesión Territorial, Programa: Impactos a Gran Escala, RIMISP, Santiago, Chile.

Author: Candelaria Navas

Topics: Gender, Women, Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Americas, Central America Countries: El Salvador

Year: 2015

Estudio de la mujer rural y el desarrollo del capitalismo en el agro colombiano


León de Leal, Magdalena, and Carmen Diana Deere. 1978. “Estudio de la mujer rural y el desarrollo del capitalismo en el agro colombiano.” Demografía y Economía 12 (1): 4–36.

Authors: Magdalena León de Leal, Carmen Diana Deere

Topics: Agriculture, Gender, Women, Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 1978


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