Property Rights

Interrogating Large Scale Land Acquisition and Its Implication on Women in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Case Study of Ghana


Darkwah, Akosua K., Peace A. Medie, and Maame Gyekye-Jandoh. 2017. “Interrogating Large Scale Land Acquisition and Its Implication on Women in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Case Study of Ghana.” Working Paper No. 401/August 2017. The Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights, Boston, MA.

Authors: Akosua K. Darkwah, Peace A. Medie, Maame Gyekye-Jandoh


Large scale land acquisitions have become increasingly common across Africa. This paper draws on two case studies of large scale land acquisitions in Ghana to examine how the practice affects communities in general, and women in particular. It explains that while there have been some benefits of these acquisitions, the costs to communities mostly outweigh the benefits. Women are particularly impacted by this practice as their livelihoods are affected and they are excluded from the proceeds of land transactions. The paper concludes with a discussion of the actions that state agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and communities have taken to address the negative impact of large scale land acquisition on women and their communities. (Abstract from original source).

Topics: Economies, Economic Inequality, Environment, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equity, Land Grabbing, Livelihoods, Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Ghana

Year: 2017

These Days We Have to Be Poor People: Women’s Narratives of the Economic Aftermath of Forced Evictions in Phnom Penh, Cambodia


McGinn, Colleen. 2015. “These Days We Have to Be Poor People: Women’s Narratives of the Economic Aftermath of Forced Evictions in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.” Paper presented at Land Grabbing, Conflict and Agrarian-Environmental Transformations: Perspectives from East and South-East Asia Conference. Chiang Mai University, June. 

Author: Colleen McGinn


“This paper explores the economic aftermath of forced evictions for urban Cambodian women. It is based on an analysis of in-depth narratives of 22 women displaced from five locations in Phnom Penh, the capital city. Evictees’ overall post-eviction coping and adaptation proved to be grounded in their economic circumstances, which in turn framed other risk and resilience factors. The nature and degree of economic harm resulting from the evictions varied widely, and followed specific patterns consistent with pre-displacement socioeconomic status, livelihood source, and the degree to which social networks were embedded in their former neighborhoods. Those who worked in the informal sector experienced shocks to their livelihoods, especially those who landed in remote locations. Homeowners were more typically harmed in terms of assets: they might maintain relatively stable incomes, but lose enormous value of their properties. A third group experienced a catastrophic double blow affecting both livelihoods and assets; this group tended to include shopkeepers whose shelter and livelihoods were both tied to their property. There were also some women who reported that forced eviction had had a relatively benign impact on them. These narratives were idiosyncratic. However, several explanatory factors emerged, including these women had intact livelihoods, superficial ties to their former neighborhoods, and/or found new housing nearby. I conclude with recommendations, including compensation at full market value for seized properties, and broad urban planning measures to protect and encourage affordable rental housing within the city, proximate to diverse livelihood opportunities. A housing/shelter focus to advocacy, policy, and assistance strategies is too narrow, because it poorly addresses the livelihood crisis experienced by many of the displaced.” (Abstract from original source

Keywords: gender, land grab, eviction, Cambodia, Southeast Asia, state-gender relations

Topics: Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equity, Land Grabbing, Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Cambodia

Year: 2015

The Politics of Counting and Reporting Conflict-Related Sexual and Gender-Based Violence: the Case of Myanmar


Davies, Sara E., and Jacqui True. 2017. “The Politics of Counting and Reporting Conflict-Related Sexual and Gender-Based Violence: the Case of Myanmar.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 19 (1): 4-21.

Authors: Sara E. Davies, Jacqui True


Scholars, states and international organizations have begun to systematically count, document and compare sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in conflict-affected countries. Qualitative and quantitative studies point to a “tip of the iceberg” phenomenon, where there is a high prevalence but low level of actual reporting of SGBV. We investigate the conditions in which SGBV is reported or, more significantly, is not reported to discover the trends of reporting in politically oppressive environments where SGBV is thought to be occurring. We ask how the power to report in local conflict-affected areas is affected by national political tensions and pervasive gender discrimination. Reporting of SGBV in Myanmar, a country that has experienced multiple, protracted conflicts since independence, is examined. Analysis of open-access reports over a fifteen-year period reveals a pattern of silence that we argue is rooted in pervasive discriminatory civil and physical practices against women. Engaging with the deeply politicized and gender discriminatory context of conflict-affected societies enables us to see the anomalies of SGBV data and to highlight significant gaps in our knowledge about SGBV.

Keywords: ethnic conflict, human rights reporting, feminist methodology, Myanmar, Conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence

Topics: Ethnicity, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Conflict, Post-Conflict, Rights, Human Rights, Property Rights, Sexual Violence Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Myanmar

Year: 2017

Nigeria: Illegal Logging & Forest Women’s Resistance


Johnson, Christiana O. 2003. “Nigeria: Illegal Logging & Forest Women’s Resistance.” Review of African Political Economy 30 (95): 156–62.

Author: Christiana O. Johnson


"Paradoxically, grassroots opposition is often at its most intense in villages where the DFID community forestry project has been working most vigorously. The Forestry Commission and the DFID Community Forestry Management Project acknowledge youth's periodic 'wars' against project and Park staff, but seem (gender?) blind to growing resistance by an even more marginalised social category - women from the poorest two-thirds of households - who object to forest alienation and clear felling. Women do most of the farming and non-timber forest products harvesting, but in many forest edge villages they are a politically and jurally subordinated category; they are denied customary rights to own and manage land cleared inside thick forests that their sisters in more remote tropical high forest villages still claim and enforce" (Johnson, 2003, p. 160).

Topics: Economies, Poverty, Extractive Industries, Gender, Women, International Organizations, Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Nigeria

Year: 2003

Women's Land and Property Rights in Situations of Armed Conflict: Towards A Human Rights Approach


Farha, Leilani. 1999. “Women’s Land and Property Rights in Situations of Armed Conflict: Towards a Human Rights Approach.” Women’s Human Rights in Conflict Situations Newsletter 3 (1).

Author: Leilani Farha

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Rights, Human Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights, Women's Rights

Year: 1999

Luanda's Post-War Land Markets: Reducing Poverty by Promoting Inclusion


Cain, Allan. 2013. Luanda's Post-War Land Markets: Reducing Poverty by Promoting Inclusion. Urban Forum 24 (1) (03): 11-31.

Author: Cain Allan


Almost 40 years of war in Angola forced millions of people fleeing rural areas to seek a safe haven in the capital and to settle in informal slum settlements ( musseques) on the periphery of Luanda. The new urban migrants created homes and settlements on landthat they purchased in good faith but for which they could get no legal title. Now, they face eviction threats due to commercial interests and government infrastructure expansion. With a population today approaching of over six million, Luanda is Africa's fastest growing and fifth largest city. A decade of post-war rapid economic growth, fuelled by rising commodity prices, has seen GDP per capita grow eightfold, but poverty reduction has not kept apace. The poor, representing over 50 % of the population, have benefited little from the 'peace dividend'. The Angolan Government has promised to build one million homes country-wide before the 2012 elections and aims to eliminate much of the musseque in the process. However, the government's urban plans remain hindered by a weak administration and little national implementation capacity. Despite the government's assertion as the unique owner and manager of all land, there exists a thriving real-estate market for both formal (titled) and informally occupied land. Most urban residents with weak or non-existent tenure rights benefit little from increasing land values and are susceptible to being forcibly removed and increasingly obliged to occupy environmentally risky flood-prone areas. This paper presents the results of work on property markets in Luanda that permit a better understanding of the nature and economic value of land and identify the problems and potentials the market has to offer. The paper argues for a major reform in public land policy, recognising the legitimacy of common practices inland acquisition and long-term occupation in good faith. Inclusive land management, adapting to both formal and existing informal markets, can contribute to the improvement of urban settlement conditions and economic wellbeing of the poor in post-war Luanda.

Keywords: Angola, land markets, post-conflict, slum, urban, tenure

Topics: Armed Conflict, Development, Economies, Land Tenure, Governance, Post-Conflict Governance, Infrastructure, Post-Conflict, Peace Processes, Rights, Property Rights, Religion Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Angola

Year: 2013

Gender, Property and Land Rights: Bridging a Critical Gap in Economic Analysis and Policy


Agarwal, Bina. 1995. “Gender, Property and Land Rights: Bridging a Critical Gap in Economic Analysis and Policy.” In Out of the Margin: Feminist Perspectives on Economics, edited by Edith Kuiper and Jolande Sap, 192–214. London: Routledge.

Author: Bina Agarwal


In “Gender, Property, and Land Rights” Bina Agarwal discusses the connection between gender inequalities and command over landed property. Her analysis highlights an important lacuna in feminist analyses and economic (development) policies which mainly focus on wage labor. Agarwal argues that land ownership and control is central to the development of rural women’s economic autonomy. Recognizing the need to support politically women’s claims to land she urges feminists to discuss strategies and institutional arrangements which promote women’s access to land (Abstract from Out of the Margin: Feminist Perspectives on Economics, 7).

Topics: Gender, Land Grabbing, Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights

Year: 1995

Situating Sexual Violence in Rwanda (1990-2001): Sexual Agency, Sexual Consent, and the Political Economy of War


Bumet, Jennie E. 2012. “Situating Sexual Violence in Rwanda (1990–2001): Sexual Agency, Sexual Consent, and the Political Economy of War.” African Studies Review 55 (2): 97–118. doi:10.1353/arw.2012.0034.


Author: Jennie E. Bumet


This article situates the sexual violence associated with the Rwandan civil war and 1994 genocide within a local cultural history and political economy in which institutionalized gender violence shaped the choices of Rwandan women and girls. Based on ethnographic research, it argues that Western notions of sexual consent are not applicable to a culture in which colonialism, government policy, war, and scarcity of resources have limited women's access to land ownership, economic security, and other means of survival. It examines emic cultural models of sexual consent and female sexual agency and proposes that sexual slavery, forced marriage, prostitution, transactional sex, nonmarital sex, informal marriage or cohabitation, and customary (bridewealth) marriages exist on a continuum on which female sexual agency becomes more and more constrained by material circumstance. Even when women's choices are limited, women still exercise their agency to survive. Conflating all forms of sex in conflict zones under the rubric of harm undermines women's and children's rights because it reinforces gendered hierarchies and diverts attention from the structural conditions of poverty in postconflict societies.

Topics: Gender, Women, Girls, Gender Analysis, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Hierarchies, Livelihoods, Political Economies, Post-Conflict, Rights, Property Rights, Women's Rights, Sexual Violence, SV against Women Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Rwanda

Year: 2012

Who Owns the Land? Perspectives from Rural Ugandans and Implications for Large-Scale Land Acquisitions


Doss, Cheryl, Ruth Meinzen-Dick, and Allan Bomuhangi. 2014. “Who Owns the Land? Perspectives from Rural Ugandans and Implications for Large-Scale Land Acquisitions.” Feminist Economics 20 (1): 76–100.

Authors: Cheryl Doss, Ruth Meinzen-Dick, Allan Bomuhangi


Rapidly growing demand for agricultural land is putting pressure on property-rights systems, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, where customary tenure systems have provided secure land access. Rapid and large-scale demands from outsiders are challenging patterns of gradual, endogenous change toward formalization. Little attention has focused on the gender dimensions of this transformation. However this contribution, based on a 2008–09 study of land tenure in Uganda, analyzes how different definitions of land ownership – including household reports, existence of ownership documents, and rights over the land – provide very different indications of the gendered patterns of land ownership and rights. While many households report husbands and wives as joint owners of the land, women are less likely to be listed on ownership documents, and have fewer rights. A simplistic focus on “title” to land misses much of the reality regarding land tenure and could have an adverse impact on women's land rights.

Keywords: gender, land aquisition, land ownership, tenure security, land tenure, Uganda

Topics: Agriculture, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Land Tenure, Households, Land Grabbing, Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Uganda

Year: 2013

Land Governance and Women’s Rights in Large-Scale Land Acquisitions in Cameroon


Fonjong, Lotsmart, Irene Sama-Lang, Lawrence Fombe, and Christiana Abonge. 2016. “Land Governance and Women’s Rights in Large-Scale Land Acquisitions in Cameroon.” Development in Practice 26 (4): 420–30. doi:10.1080/09614524.2016.1162285.

Authors: Lotsmart Fonjong, Irene Sama-Lang, Lawrence Fombe, Christiana Abonge


This article identifies and examines the role of actors involved in the process of large-scale land acquisitions in Cameroon. It is based on primary data from interviews conducted among principal actors. Findings reveal that government, chiefs, and to some extent elites, play key roles in formal and informal processes that grant land to investors. However, both processes neglect women and affected communities because there are no mechanisms to hold actors accountable to them, especially to women who depend on land for their livelihood. The article concludes that a legal framework that makes the process transparent and promotes accountability and gender inclusiveness is indispensable.
Cet article identifie et examine le rôle des acteurs intervenant dans le processus des acquisitions de terres à grande échelle au Cameroun. Il se base sur des données primaires tirées d'entretiens menés parmi les acteurs principaux. Les conclusions révèlent que le gouvernement, les chefs et, dans une certaine mesure, les élites, jouent des rôles clés dans les processus formels et informels qui garantissent des terres aux investisseurs. Cependant, les deux processus négligent les femmes et les communautés touchées, parce qu'il n'y a pas de mécanismes conçus pour exiger des comptes aux acteurs, en particulier pour les femmes qui sont tributaires des terres pour gagner leur vie. Cet article conclut qu'un cadre juridique rendant le processus transparent et promouvant la redevabilité et l'inclusivité de genre est indispensable.
El presente artículo identifica y examina el papel desempeñado por los actores implicados en el proceso de adquisición de latifundios en Camerún, basándose en datos primarios surgidos de entrevistas efectuadas con los actores principales. En este sentido, los hallazgos revelan que el gobierno, los caciques y, en cierta medida, las élites, juegan un rol importante en los procesos formales e informales a partir de los cuales se dota de tierras a los inversores. Tales procesos carecen de mecanismos que obliguen a los actores a rendir cuentas, especialmente a aquellas mujeres para quienes sus tierras son su medio de vida. Por esta razón, tanto éstas como las comunidades afectadas son ignoradas y pasadas por alto. El artículo concluye señalando que resulta indispensable crear un marco legal que dé transparencia al proceso, promoviendo la rendición de cuentas e integrando el enfoque de género.

Keywords: aid, accountability, gender, diversity, governace, public policy, Rights, Sub-Saharan Africa

Topics: Gender, Women, Land Grabbing, Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights Regions: Africa, Central Africa Countries: Cameroon

Year: 2016


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