How can women’s land rights be secured? | Land Portal

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An online discussion leading up to the FAO-IFAD-ILC side event at the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), 27 February – 9 March 2012, New York

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Dear all,

There is increasing awareness of the discrimination women face in terms of their land rights, as well as recognition that this is a priority topic for those concerned with food security, rural development, and women's empowerment. In fact, this year, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) focuses on the empowerment of rural women, which is why the International Land Coalition (ILC), FAO and IFAD, are organising a side-event entitled “How can women’s land rights be secured? Learning from successful examples” at the CSW on 1 March 2012.

My name is Sabine Pallas, Programme Officer at ILC Secretariat in Rome (Italy), and with Luca Miggiano, ILC Consultant on Women's Land Rights and Global Policy, we will facilitate this discussion simultaneously on the Land Portal and in the FSN-Forum. This discussion is aimed at gathering inputs – especially concrete examples from the ground to enrich our debate in New York and raise the profile of women’s land rights issues at the CSW.

Why are women's land rights so important?

The most important resource for rural women is land. Despite women’s critical role and contribution to agriculture, rural development, and food security, women across the world are discriminated in terms of their access to, ownership of and control over land, and the income produced from it. Women’s ability to access land and to claim, use and defend rights to land and other natural resources is weakened by their status within the household and community, as well as discriminatory customary or statutory laws. Growing commercial pressures on land increase dependency on subsistence agriculture and further undermine women’s land rights.

According to FAO’s 2011 State of Food and Agriculture Report (SOFA), evidence of gender inequalities in access to land is ‘overwhelming’: social norms discriminate against women, with customary practices restricting women’s ability to own or operate land, and if they do, that land is generally of a lesser quality and size than men’s (SOFA 2011:23ff), but land rights for women are crucial to closing the gender gap in agriculture. In IFAD supported programmes, secure land tenure is central to reducing rural poverty and increasing agricultural production, as well as achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment. ILC, a network of intergovernmental and civil society organisations, of which IFAD and FAO are founding members, promotes secure and equitable access to land for women and men and has a targeted Women’s Land Rights Initiative.

Questions to be addressed during this discussion and the side event

We would like to request your inputs on:

  • (Successful) examples of women claiming their land rights: Can you share concrete examples of women getting to know, understanding and claiming their land rights? Specifically, are there concrete examples of women accessing justice systems to claim their land rights? What can we learn from “not-so-successful” examples? Please share any lessons that might apply in other contexts.
  • Examples of policies and tools that promote women's land rights: Which policies have promoted secure land rights for women and how can these be replicated? What innovative and affordable tools can secure land tenure?
  • The role of women's organisations: What type of support do women’s organisations need to mobilise, and who are the existing and potential partners in promoting women's land rights? What are effective approaches to ensure that women's voices are heard and get the support of policy-makers? How can women's organisations contribute to community development, and how can the role of women in decision-making be strengthened?
  • The wider policy context: What challenges do women face in securing their land rights when land is increasingly used for commercial agriculture, fuel crop production, and conservation purposes? Once land rights are secured, how can women sustain their livelihoods from the land?

Thank you in advance for your time and contributions, which we will synthesise and share at the FAO-IFAD-ILC side event in New York, as well as with as participants at the 56th session of the CSW.

We look forward to a stimulating debate, and in particular hope that you will share many practical examples of rural women claiming their land rights to inform and motivate others working towards securing women's land rights.

You can participate by leaving a comment on this page. We encourage you to join the Land Portal! If you have problems posting, please send us an e-mail (;

Sabine Pallas

Luca Miggiano


In China, women are embedded in a social and legal structure that is highly discriminatory and limits their land and property rights. As in many other countries, women in China lose land rights mainly through inequality of inheritance, marriage, divorce, and widowhood.

I have found that many of the same mechanisms that dispossess rural women of their land have also worked against women in China’s urban real estate boom.

What economist Bina Agarwal wrote in her 1994 book, "A Field of One's Own - Gender and Land Rights in South Asia," still applies today:

“...the risk of poverty and the physical well-being of a woman and her children could depend significantly on whether or not she has DIRECT access to income and productive assets such as land, and not just access MEDIATED through her husband or other male family members.”

-Leta Hong Fincher, PhD candidate, Sociology, Tsinghua University

As per the Nepal's experience, there should balanced of three things for the women's and rights; first is women's strong orgnisation and non-violence actions and power generation from ground, second strong lobby and discussion with the policy makers, parliament members and political leaders and third, cultural campaign from below like discussion with the mail and make the public issue of women's justice and property rights issue.

As per the experience of Nepal, since there is balance of three things, government has announced 40% tax discount for the independent rights and only Rs. 100 ( US $1.20) for joint ownership. As per the government provision, already more than 1000 women got the independent rights and more than 500 got the joint ownership. CSRC has been facilitating the joint ownership campaign and plan to support at least 5000 women in this year.

We were instrumental in implementing a project on implementing women's land rights at the grass-root level in the tribal area of Midnapore in West Bengal, India from 2009-2010. The project was funded by ILC. Being associated with the project we could closely see how the real situation is - at the ground level!! Even though there are laws and policies being framed from time to time to support women's land rights there remains, in reality, a huge gap between WHAT IS and WHAT SHOULD BE! It is because there is a lack of knowledge about the laws among the grass-root women and the local social norms are strongly embedded in the system which does not allow the penetration of legal system for proper implementation. In this context, as a woman's organisation, our role was to reach the legal provisions for women in a simplified manner. We made colorful posters, easy to understand booklets and cartoon booklets where we shared the issue of land rights and other laws for women and spoke about their rights in a subtle manner. These we presented through grass-root level meets. By this way we could reach the awareness about legal provisions to them which would have otherwise never reached them! Then we took advantage of the fact that tribal culture is based on fairs and festivities and introduced a concept called "Earth Festival" - this festival highlighted the contribution made by women towards preserving land and land-based activities. This way we could send a strong message of women's natural right towards her land within the ethos of the tribal culture. These activities had a positive influence on the women and they became aware of their rights and their rightful claim towards their land.

Hello Everyone!
I am happy to participate in this discussion. Women Land Rights is one of the crucial area where ActionAid Bangladesh Works and as a research officer of ActionAid Bangladesh, I have found this issue more vital for the overall development of women group of my country. In Bangladesh there are several policies that hinders women access to land. I can state one example: Bangladesh government distributes Kash Land (Govt land) to the land less people according to the policy but in the policy it has been said that, to get this land from the government by a widow, she have to have a boy chield at least. That mean, If a landless widow wants to get land from government, and if she have only girl child, she can not get land from the government. As a development practitioner I believe, This policy is not gender friendly and can not ensure equal rights of man and women.Though after campaigning by ActionAid, government of Bangladesh has promised to change this policy. This comment is my immediate reaction on this topic. I want to contribute more and I am glad to inform all of you that, I am going to conduct a research on "Women access to and control over Land in Rural Bangladesh". I will write on my findings very soon. Take care all. :)

Una experiencia en curso en Mozambique es bastante relevante para esta discución: estamos implementando (FAO - Divisiones de Género, de Tierras y Agua y Oficina Jurídica) un par de proyectos sobre los derechos territoriales y uno de ellos es explicitamente relacionado con los derechos de las mujeres. La estrategia que hemos usado mirada, en los primeros años, a crear condiciones a nivel de la politica y de la legislación para que fuesen reconocidos los derechos de las comunidades locales. Fueron necesarios años de trabajo, siendo este un tema muy sensible, como todos sabemos. Poco a poco fueron realizadas una serie de experiencias piloto sobre como identificar, delimitar y reconocer estos territorios, haciendo trabajar juntos instituciones de gobierno, de la sociedad civil y de naciones unidas. En términos metodológicos esto se plasmó con el documento Participatory Land Delimitation, que tenemos a disposición para los interesados. Con los años se crearon las condiciones para empezar a trabajar dentro las comunidades, de manera que las parcelas que las mujeres estan cultivando, sean reconocidas de manera cuanto más formal posible.

El proyecto actual, del cual informará la responsable, Marianna Bicchieri, en los próximos días, apunta a reforzar las capacidades de operadores (hombres y mujeres) que trabajan con las comunidades sobre los temas de los derechos de las mujeres a la tierra.

Fue necesario un tiempo, crear condicones de confianza tanto con el gobierno como con las oprganizaciones no gubernamentales y con las propias comundiades, sin embargo hemos logrado que tres titulos hayan sido emitidos por parte del gobierno de Mozambique en favor de tres mujeres. Son los primeros a ser emitidos en Mozambique, demonstrando que, con paciencia y constancia, se logran desplazar mismo las montañas.

Land rights for women is a critical issue for discussion in the context of poverty alleviation and addressing nutritional food security. There might not be statistical evidence linking women's land ownership with levels of malnutrition, but there is enough examples and evidence to suggest that with secured rights over land, especially homestead plots, women usually grow a variety of vegetables, greens and vitamin rich fruits that contribute to the food basket of the family and in turn reducing malnutrition among the rural population.

Though regulations and government instructions exist to grant land title in favor of women and also issue of "joint title" in case of all government land distribution / allocation programmes there are often gaps in the implementation levels. At another level while joint title is practiced in government land allocation programmes, there is lack of clarity and inadequate instructions at the level of definition of rights over the land. The same applies in case grant for house (Indira Awas Yojna) construction is issued in the name of the lady of the house. An additional point I like to emphasize is emphasis on single women headed households in land allocation/distribution programmes since they constitute one of the most vulnerable sections of society.

I am interested to know about issues and examples of land rights for women and single headed women households with regard to Government land allocation/distribution programmes. Also impacts and examples of household nutrition through women focused interventions would be useful for replication in different parts of the world.

I hail from Odisha, India and am associated in a programme that works in collaboration with a poverty alleviation project that is currently focusing on land allocation in its 1000 project villages.

This is an important subject, which I have worked on for my Master's thesis. I would therefore like to participate in this online discussion.

Thank you

Digest 1

Dear contributors!

Thank you very much for starting this discussion! I would like summarise the main points raised and pose a few questions to deepen our discussion:

LETA HONG FINCHER stressed that the structural discrimination against women with regard to their property rights is similar across countries and usually expressed through inequality in marriage, divorce, widowhood and inheritance - and that, in China, rural and urban women are affected by similar mechanisms of dispossession.

Q: Are there any differences in how urban and rural women cope with dispossession and do you know of women (urban or rural) organising individually/in groups to claim their rights? It would be great if you could share more information about the Chinese context of land and property rights, both in terms of the legal structures and social norms that discriminate against women.

JAGAT BASNET from CSRC in Nepal lists grassroots women's collective organising, lobbying policy-makers and a campaign for cultural change that also targets men as crucial elements to achieve improvements for women's land rights, as has happened in Nepal, where tax discounts on women's title registration and joint ownership titles have encouraged more women to apply.

Q: This is a great example of a policy promoting women's land rights! What were your most effective strategies to facilitate grassroots organising, how did women's organisations approach policy-makers and how was the campaign conceived? And what are the main obstacles you had to overcome to work with women and men in communities?

SWADHINA from India stressed that a huge gap remains between laws (that grassroots women lack knowledge of) and the social norms that continue to prevail at local level. Swadhina therefore focused on informing women about laws, packaging information in an accessible and culturally-appropriate way. By doing so, Swadhina raised women's awareness about their rights.

Q: Thank you for this example of how women's awareness can be raised. Could you share how you included other community members, especially elders/tribal authorities in the information campaign and the festivals? How did you engage men and what was their reaction? Does the festival continue after the end of your project?

WALIUZZAMAN from ActionAid Bangladesh shared that a number of policies hinder women's access to land in Bangladesh, though it seems that the government has responded to ActionAid's campaign for policy change.

Q: It is good to hear that government seems to be responsive! What do you think were the reasons they responded to ActionAid's campaign, and how was this campaign built? It would also be great if you could share more details on the policies that hinder women's access to land. And please, do share the findings from your research with us!

PAOLO GROPPO shared the example of an FAO-project on territorial rights in Mozambique that explicitly addresses women's rights. This project started by creating enabling conditions at the policy and legal level so that community rights are recognised, working with government, civil society and United Nations agencies and using a method called " Participatory Land Delimitation" (which they are happy to share with anyone interested). Once community rights were recognised, the project then moved on to recognising individual plots, including those of women, and three titles for women (the first in the country!) have now been issued. Paolo emphasised that it took a long time to build relationships of trust with the various actors involved, including with communities, but that with patience and perseverance, we can move mountains!

Q: Thanks Paolo for the encouraging words, we do indeed want to move mountains! Could you share how you built trust with government, civil society and communities and what the most effective strategies were? Did you work with local or national women's organisations to create the legal and policy conditions? We are looking forward to hearing more from the project coordinator, Marianna, or you, and please do share the methodology for participatory delimitation on the Land Portal!

SIBABRATA CHOUDHURY from India stressed that women's land rights are critical for poverty alleviation and food security, giving the example of homestead plots which can contribute to the family's food basket and reduce malnutrition. However, regulations in favour of women's land rights (for instance, joint titles in government land allocation programmes) are not always implemented and households headed by single women need to be targeted more as they are most vulnerable. 

Q: Thank you! On the homestead plots, do you have more detailed information you can share? What do you think are the main factors that block implementation of regulations in favour of women? Do give us more details about lessons learnt on how to address gender issues in the land allocation project you are working on! Also, this article on malnutrition in India and securing women's land rights might be of interest to you!

And, last but not least, RITA, welcome you to the discussion, we look forward to hearing more about your research.

Keep your contributions coming!

Best, Sabine

Hi! In continuation to my earlier post, let me share my experiences on homestead plots, particularly women's access to and development of such plots in addressing household nutrition security. I am associated in a land allocation programme that is supported by a Government funded poverty alleviation programme in Odisha, India. I will also share my experiences on addressing women's land rights in land allocation programmes.

Here in Odisha, India we are working in collaboration with the Government in securing land rights for the poorest and landless. Following an assessment in 2009-10 of the Government run land allocation programme, we devised a local capacity model that involved the engagement of local youth to help the Revenue (Land Administration) officials in the identification of landless and facilitating the land allocation process. By this method, the hitherto overburdened revenue officials were able to identify the landless in a village and speed up the official procedures and paper work that culminated in the handing over of land titles to the identified families. In this programme, the land titles issued to the identified families are "joint titles", with the names of both wife and husband figuring on the land title. This is as per the provision and guideline for Government land allocation programmes.

In most of our intervention villages I have observed that secured title over homestead land has resulted in improved utilization of the plots. Secured access and rights over small homestead plots has led the families to turn the plots into beautiful home-gardens that produce a variety of vegetables, tubers, greens, etc. The families have grown seedlings of drumstick, papaya and lime that they procured from the Women and Child Development Department. My interactions with families has revealed that, they are able to get vegetables and greens from these homestead plots for nearly 8-9 months in a year, baring the summer months when water levels go down. A land title has enabled some families to avail financial assistance under a Government housing scheme and others to register themselves in an employment guarantee programme. The "homestead development model" that we are working on involves linking land allocation with ongoing livelihoods and government programmes that supplement and help the families in improved utilization of the allotted homestead plots. Here, since the land title is jointly in the name of both wife and husband, both the women and men are equally responsible and work together in the allotted plots, often the wife deciding on the type of vegetable to be grown. Because of increased availability of vegetables and greens in the home gardens, the nutritious intake by women and children has remarkably improved in the villages. Thus, while land title in the name of joint women increases their stake, they have possibly more stake in the development of the home garden and improving household food security. We are working closely with the State Government to promote this model of convergence for land allocation and homestead development.

Regarding the administration of land allocation programme for single women headed households, there are several challenges and programmatic improvements needed to address the issue. At the programmatic level, there has to be clearly spelt out and focused approach to identify this vulnerable section. So, there still is ambiguity for the definition of single headed household, method for identification and allotment of land for such women. Often, the single headed women are missed out during household enumeration and are included in other male-headed households. To complicate matters, when it comes to allot land, that is a physical asset (much valued) that altogether alters the status and dignity of the individual, lots of social dynamics come into play in a village.

It will be interesting to learn from others about their experiences on the allotment of land to vulnerable single women headed households. I look forward to an engrossing discussion on the topics highlighted by fellow contributors...

On Chinese's women's property rights, rural vs. urban. Here is a column I wrote last September on

China’s New Marriage Law May Exacerbate Gender Wealth Gap

China’s Supreme People’s Court in August, 2011 issued a new interpretation of the country’s Marriage Law to state that after divorce, marital property belongs solely to the person who took out a mortgage and registered as home owner.
Most residential property is registered to the husband. In that case, even if the wife and her family made substantial contributions toward the purchase of the residence and maintenance of the mortgage, the wife loses it all to the husband when they divorce.
Didn’t China fight a revolution to, among other things, make sure things like this don’t happen?
31-year-old Anna Li[1] has a successful career as a real estate agent in Beijing but no home of her own. Her parents bought a house for her brother so that he could marry, but did not buy one for her because she is female. Li plans to marry soon, but her fiancé could not afford a home, so she used her savings to help him buy a Beijing apartment in his name alone. She feels that it is important to support his sense of manhood. But China’s Supreme People’s Court has just issued a new interpretation of the country’s Marriage Law to state that after divorce, marital property belongs solely to the person who took out a mortgage and registered as home owner. That means despite Wang’s financial contribution, the property she helped buy belongs solely to her boyfriend.
29-year-old April Fei, who lives in the coastal city of Dalian, is upset about changes to the Marriage Law. She is an only child, but her parents did not want to buy a house for her because she is female and they expect the man to provide her with a house. So she contributed RMB60, 000 (the equivalent of US$9,400) of her own savings for a down payment on a house registered under her boyfriend’s name. They married in 2009 and she spent tens of thousands of yuan renovating the marital home and buying furniture. Asked if she has talked to her husband about adding her name to the property deed, she says no, because she does not want to disrupt their relationship.
27-year-old Clara Sun is an only child from Hangzhou who says she is not disturbed by changes to the Marriage Law. Yet her own parents paid half of the down payment on a house registered under her boyfriend’s name last year, and are making monthly mortgage payments together with her boyfriend’s parents. She expects to marry her boyfriend soon, and her parents believe that it is “more convenient” if the future marital home is registered under the man’s name.
These three women are among hundreds of people across China who responded to an online survey I launched on August 27th to gauge reaction to the new Marriage Law on Sina Weibo, the popular micro blogging service. Within days, over 950 male and female micro bloggers in China signed up to “follow” my Weblog. Dozens more women sent me private messages, anonymously expressing anguish over what changes in the Marriage Law would mean for their financial security.
Home prices in cities such as Beijing are more than 22 times what an average worker earns in a year, according to media reports. Yet despite skyrocketing house prices, China has one of the highest home ownership rates in the world, at over 80 percent in 2010.[2] Demand for residential real estate is driven in part by China’s sex-ratio imbalance, which has intensified pressure on parents to buy a home for their son to attract a bride.
According to the latest government statistics from the All China Women’s Federation, over 86 percent of households in China in 2005 were headed by men. In the countryside, 92 percent of households were headed by men; while in the cities, almost 80 percent of household heads were men.[3] The vast majority of residential property in China is registered to the “household head,” which is usually the man. The Women’s Federation says that household heads almost always control the property, deciding whether or when to sell it and how to use it.
The All China Women’s Federation says the most urgent problem facing rural women in China is the absence of property rights.[4] In theory, women in China have had legally recognized rights to land and property. But in practice, they have lost land rights mainly through marriage, divorce, inheritance, widowhood and urban migration.
From the responses to my Weibo survey and the interviews I have conducted so far, I believe that many of the same mechanisms that dispossess women of their property in the countryside have also worked against women in China’s urban real estate boom. Now, with the changes to China’s Marriage Law, women lack even basic protections from the letter of the law.
Take Barbara Qiu, mother of a nine-month-old baby in Chongqing who says her husband beat her when she was still pregnant. She quit her job in Chongqing to raise their child, and she contributed her savings to a down payment on their marital house in Beijing, but registered the house under her husband’s name alone. She had no other relatives in Beijing, so she fled to live with her mother and give birth in Chongqing. After the government announced changes to the Marriage Law, her husband filed for a divorce. He has threatened to take her to court, where he says the new law will grant him unconditional ownership of their marital home, despite all the money and labor she has put into their marriage. He will only settle out of court if Qiu grants him full custody of her baby son (she says he would not want the baby if it were a girl).
Many sociological studies have shown that if one partner in a marriage is economically dependent on the other, the one who is dependent has less power within the marriage. Amanda Richardson of the Landesa Center for Women’s Land Rights cites evidence that women with secure land rights are less vulnerable to domestic violence.[5] Sociologist Mariko Lin Chang has also documented that wealth is a much more important gauge of economic status than income.[6] And because of a lack of other viable investments, most wealth in China lies in real estate. An analysis of property ownership patterns in China therefore shows who is economically weak and who is strong.
Although my study is incomplete and not a representative sample, the information I have received so far sheds light on what I believe to be a dramatic widening of China’s gender inequality in wealth as a result of skyrocketing real estate prices in recent years.
Urban women are better educated and wealthier than rural women. But I believe the massive financial value of China’s urban real estate market, combined with deeply entrenched patriarchal traditions and beliefs that men must be the household head and official home owner, point to a deepening of the gender gap in wealth as more and more Chinese buy urban homes.
Not all Chinese women are passively accepting the status quo, however. My survey has found many examples of young, unmarried women who are angered by changes to the Marriage Law and more determined than ever to delay marriage and buy a house in their own name. In many industrialized, democratic countries, the passage of a law that clearly disadvantages most women would likely be a catalyst for a social protest movement. But even among self-proclaimed feminists in China, I am struck by the lack of any signs of organized, public resistance.
If I were to hazard a guess, I am inclined to believe that women in China will not form a protest movement against the Marriage Law. Rather, they may quietly begin to turn away from marriage just like their counterparts in some other parts of Asia, such as Japan and Singapore.[7] And young women with means will also buy their own homes, rather than turning to a man to provide them with one.

The main obstacles of women's land rights are two things; one is legal provision and another is cultural practices and values which is directly link with the mind set of patriarchy. Regarding the obstacle of land rights campaign of Nepal is government just announced the policy they did not have the progeramme to implement the programme. Land rights campaign also not as expected resources on this. For this, without campaigning at rural area, it is not possible. Second is still we have to change the mind set of men and women both on this. So still we have cultural obstacles on this and CSRC has been facilitating this as campaign and starting from the NLRF members, CSRC staff and members and land rights activist from local level.

CSRC has been implementing following strategies to convince the policy makers and government of Nepal;

It is not possible without empowering enabling and strengthening of the women's organisation at local and national level. Those who are deprived from the rights they themselves should claim and fight for this. So, CSRC empowered and organised around 50,000 women and they have been showing the power from the ground to national level.

National Land Rights Forum, the oragnisation of landless and tenants farmers focusing on the rights of women and mobilization of women and non-violence action is important so CSRC has been facilitating this process.

One thousand rural women came in Kathmandu with their own food and blanket, this is itself power and oragnised the 'sit in programme in front of the major political parties office, Ministries of Nepal government and parliament building civil society oragnisaitons, human rights activists and women parliament members supported.

The women leaders hand over the ploguh to all the political parties leaders and ask to fulfill their commitment which they had done during the election time. This had made possible to take the decision of council of ministers on the independent and joint ownership land rights and at eh end government of Nepal announced in budget speech as laws.

The another strategy is if the real person claim the rights it is possible, if the NGOs leaders ask to do then no possible. So rural women themselves should claim their rights not by NGOs and other people.

There are few obstacles which are as follows;

Government announced the policy but they have no programme for the campaigning. Without campaigning it is not possible. Now CSRC has been campaigning from the different part of the countries.

As I already said it is also the campaign of cultural change and it is difficult to change the mind set not only the male female as well.

Again with out claiming the rights person or respective person, it is not possible, it is taking time to make able to claim the rights from the right and respective person.

In the case of CSRC, it has started from its staffs, members and NLRF members and leaders. This has showed the example and campaign is moving a head on this.

I agree with comments made earlier, and really appreciate experiences shared here- what works and what others are doing. the question of women's rights to land is one of citizenship. what are the rights of a citizen to the territory called country? the unfortunate thing is, most of the decisions on land- use, control or ownership- is left to or happens in the private sphere, that as most people note, is guided by traditions and customs that are discriminatory against women, to the extent that legal or public policy provisions that may be progressive in supporting women's rights to land do not realize tangible benefits to the women's lived realities because the end results are still dictated by what happens in private sphere. we have seen cases- in Malawi, Nepal for example, where National or local governments have instituted very progressive policies for land redistribution, and registration of land in the names of women, but if you interrogate further, the decisions on how to use the land, and what happens to the produce, still remains a Man's domain. the man in that women's life still makes the final decision.

It is true that women face many obstacles in accessing land (, especially as many discriminatory practices prevail even when laws grant equal rights. For example, in Kenya women’s access to land is severely restricted by customary law, which essentially prohibits women from owning or inheriting land - even though the Kenyan Constitution guarantees equality of ownership rights for all Kenyan citizens. ( One of the main policy challenges is therefore the existence of multiple legal systems in a given country. There are numerous examples of policy approaches, such as gender-sensitive land certification programmes. For example in Ethiopia, a government-led initiative to counteract women’s financial vulnerability has helped to improve significantly their economic and social status. ( Accessing land is key for rural women in developing countries as it not only empowers them financially but it also gives them more decision-making power in the household and the community. (See more on Social Norms:

I'd like to participate in the online discussion.


Asia: good practices/innovations

Dear all,

I wanted to share some excerpts from a paper written by Nitya Rao for the Expert Group Meeting held in Ghana in September 2011 in preparation of the CSW. In the paper "Women's Access to Land: An Asian Perspective", she looks at land ownership and distribution patterns in Asia, drivers of change in women's access to land, and lists a number of good practices and innovations (from India, Nepal and China) that I would like to mention here (for the full examples and references, please see the paper itself!):

1) Implementation of existing policies: In Andra Pradesh, India, the Deccan Development Society has since the mid-1980s organised over 3000 low caste (dalit) women in 32 villages to develop, take decisions and establish de facto control (leasing or buying) over low quality fallow lands with financial support from the State Government and organisational support from NGOs (Rao, R, 2010, Agarwal, 2003, while in Kerala, the State-led Kudumbashree programme has put pressure on the local governments to promote collective farming by women on land leased from the state.

2) Social recognition and visibility: Nepalese women organised a massive land march in early 2011 for a supportive legislation and its implementation on the ground, enhancing awareness of existing laws and entitlements, identifying mechanisms for operationalising them through sensitising men, village leaders and state functionaries, and shifting attitudes and values across different patriarchal institutional domains (J Basnet, pers. comm., 8/7/11). See Jagat's comments below also!

3) Policy advocacy and change
a) Claiming legitimate decision-making spaces: Ekta Parishad in India secured the formation of a Land Reform Committee under the Minister for Rural Development after a strong land march by 25,000-people (40 percent women), though the multi-stakeholder Land Reforms Councils Ekta suggested to oversee the process of land distribution (and in which local women and men would participate) have not been implemented.
b) Changing attitudes of the bureaucracy: The Working Group for Women and Land Ownership (WGWLO) in Gujarat, India, has simultaneously mobilised and enhanced the capabilities of women, building women's sub-committees and federations on land, and sensitised the local male bureaucracy (they have been invited to conduct training programmes for the local revenue functionaries) (WGWLO, 2004).
c) Institutionalising the State-society interface to make programme implementation gender-sensitive: ANANDI, a WGWLO member, has set up gender justice centres at the block level run by local sangathan (collective) leaders, women elected to panchayats (local government bodies) and NGO representatives to facilitate the interface with government implementation bodies. As a result, women have been able to secure kisan (farmer) credit cards, widow benefits, ration cards, bank accounts and inclusion of local grains within the PDS.
d) Highlighting the rights of single women as subjects not deviants: The Ekal Nari Shakti Sangathan, a network of single women (never married, abandoned, divorced, separated, widowed) in India, is demanding from the state separate official registration, separate ration cards and two acres of surplus government land on a 30 year lease. In Himachal Pradesh, the first two demands were accepted in 2009, important as markers of identity and enabling access to pensions and jobs. The demand for land has not yet been acceded.

4) Control over the production process: Cooperatives have been an attractive institutional form, demonstrating alternate pathways for production and marketing. While the nature of private, household-based land-holding has made cooperative agriculture largely unsuccessful, the Chinese example demonstrates the benefits of providing pre-and post-production services through village cooperatives. In India, this has been successful in the dairy sector, exemplified by the Amul brand, led by the Kheda Milk Producers’ Union in Gujarat. While women constitute a majority of livestock managers, nevertheless, they still comprise a minority 18 per cent of registered membership.

5) Political leadership: The 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments in India, which provided for one-third reservation of seats for women at all levels of local government, has contributed to a process of positive change. Despite critiques, women now do influence agendas and decisions locally, including on resource distribution, and not just serve as ‘proxies’ for their husbands.

Digest 2

Dear contributors, thanks for sharing your experience and your work! Please note that comments can be made also in Spanish, French and Portuguese. Contributors have touched upon some important issues:

  • The need for policy change (Bangladesh), as well as the need to implement existing policies (Nepal, Kenya) – An important message that should be brought to the attention of CSW56. Looking forward to further examples from other countries!
  • The critical role played by women’s organisations (Nepal) and collective capacity, and the support that other actors, especially NGOs, can provide them - It would be interesting to understand what has not been done so far – at regional and international level - or has been done too little, especially in breaking some boundaries and gaining the support of policy-makers from other policy areas (e.g. finance);
  • How to campaign, influence national institutions and change the policy agenda (Nepal, Bangladesh);
  • The need to increase awareness at all levels (women and men), and for the women’s movements to gain visibility and social recognition - Thanks for the examples shared on community-based activities, festivals, marches, and national fora! I am sure more and more will come during the discussion;  
  • The need to differentiate rural women, and in particular to address single women’s lack of rights (India). Silabrata Choudhury provided further details on the Government funded alleviation programme in Odisha, India, s/he is working for, shedding light on the risk for single women headed household not to be adequately considered - Thanks Silabrata! Looking forward to contributions addressing this issue as well as other groups’ concerns too;
  • The question of customary rights and multiple legal systems - This is an interesting debate, which is extremely context-specific, it would be great if other participants could contribute with positive examples, if any!) – the FAO SOFA 2011 affirms for example that “strengthening traditional use-rights for widows and divorced women may provide more secure tenure for them even in cases where there is resistance to full ownership” (FAO, 2011: 47)
  • Nitya Rao’s paper underlines the importance – among other things - of the “control over the production process” and “political leadership”, mentioning gender quotas - On this point, what are effective approaches to ensure that women’s voices are heard at all levels?
  • This is someway linked to the suggestion from Catherine Gatundu (ActionAid International) to frame the question of women’s rights to land as one of citizenship. This helps us to put the topic within a wider context of social struggles. She also highlighted how much critical is the existing boundary between private/public spheres - Catherine, can you provide examples on how to break this boundary?
  • Sibabrata Choudhury also shared her experience of how secured titles over homestead land for women resulted in improved utilisation of the plots, and “remarkably improved” the nutritious intake by women and children, as well as families’ access to credit and employment schemes – These are the examples who help us to stress the linkages between women’s land rights and food security and poverty alleviation strategies.
  • Finally, from the experience of CSRC in Nepal, the importance of personal change as a necessary step for collective and institutional change (see also a similar point in FAO, IFAD, ILO, 2010: 95)  “It is also the campaign of cultural change […] In the case of CSRC, it has started from its staff, members and members and leaders of the National Land Rights Forum. This has showed the example and campaign is moving ahead on this”.

Please, continue participating!

Despite years and years of efforts to raise awareness and providing information about women's land rights, much remains to be done to spread this message even further especially to those who difficult to reach. In rural societies, the landless or near landless and those with insecure tenure rights typically constitute the poorest and most marginalized and vulnerable groups. The rights of these groups tend to be secondary, rarely extending beyond use rights. Moreover, these rights are often unprotected and weak, especially for women. Many marginalized and vulnerable groups are simply not aware of the rights they have. They often live in remote areas, at times in seclusion, they are illiterate, communicate in minority languages. It is important to identify advocacy opportunities and plan for awareness campaigns that are tailored to their needs and come from community leaders that they know and respect. When sensitizing women about their rights, it is essential to work with men at the same time to create win-win situations.
IFAD and Oxfam Novib piloted a community-led methodology for value chain development (VCD) which sensitized many couples register their land in both names. The project took place in Uganda and involved local organizations in the coffee, maize, beans and fruits value chains. The methodology was effective in empowering the most vulnerable women and men to increase gender equality within households, increased productivity, quality and incomes, and reduced risks. It brought about immediate changes in gender attitudes and behaviour of men as well as women at different levels of the value chain through individual and collective activities. It successfully addressed gender inequalities in property rights, division of labour, gender-based violence and participation in economic decision-making at household and local levels.
If you want to know more, have a look a the video: Balanced trees bear richer fruit. and

Hi, I am a student of Malmo University in Sweden and I am doing a study on securing rural women's land rights through communication. I think your work is relevant to that and would like to be able to pose some questions to you. Would that be ok?
Looking fwd to hearing from u.

Dear contributors are all valuable contributions that merit deeper reflection from the contributions made. Let me begin by saying that my English is not good, so I put down in Spanish, because that's where it really is very briefly what I mean and think and feel about this issue of the right of women to land.

I believe the issue of security of land rights for women depends on many factors and are certainly different in every continent and every country.

One of the first factor is that this right is recognized in law, regardless of age, not marital status discrimination of women, whatever their mother or not. This first step is important to be complemented by policies and standards that can carry high implementation of laws.
But this is not enough, it is also important that women paw the social context in which "live", we recognize that the right woman and allow her to exercise it. Some communities (not necessarily indigenous peoples), but rural communities that do not allow women to take their land as owner, not allowed to use their property to produce or food. This is an issue that should be built from 'primary education in the curricula of schools.

It seems that with the two above factors, it seems that is enough, however, it appears that in some cases limiting or prevented women from exercising their right to land, is the woman herself. Sometimes ignorance of their rights (not uncommon in some rural areas) and sometimes by force of the context, making it impossible for women to demand, in many cases, compliance with the law. I call it "the mental attitude of submission" adopted by many women, as if poverty were linked to a submissive attitude, it seems that poverty brings and embraced shyness. It is very difficult for women living in poverty, demand the recognition of this right, either because they acquired through widowhood or being beneficiaries of the State.
In indigenous people is much more complex. The titles of the property of land for the indigenous people, is with the name of the people, but internally it is undeniable that there is a distribution of land. This process hides behind community rights, disregard for the rights of women and especially in inter ethnic marriages, which after separation, the woman is completely helpless and without any protection and the community.

Many women in rural areas, gradually thicken the outlying areas of cities, if you know better or worse poverty, but they are poor and continue with many difficulties in accessing food security in the context of human rights.

You can continue listing the constraints to women's access to land for women from exercising their rights as citizens of equal status to women in a man ... although this is another debate.
Estimados contribuyentes, todos son aportes muy valiosos que merecen una más profunda reflexión a partir de los aportes presentados. Quiero comenzar indicando que mi inglés no es bueno, por eso pongo en español más abajo, porque es ahí donde realmente está lo que muy brevemente quiero decir y pienso y siento sobre este tema del derecho de la mujer a la tierra.
Considero que el tema de la seguridad del derecho a la tierra para las mujeres depende de muchos factores y sin duda son distintos en cada continente y en cada país.
Uno de los primeros factores es que este derecho esté reconocido en las leyes, sin discriminación de edad, sin discriminar el estado civil de la mujer, ni su condición de madre o no. Este primer paso es importante que sea complementado con políticas y normas secundarias que permitan llevar aplicar las leyes.
Pero esto, no es suficiente, es también importante pata las mujeres que el contexto social en el que “habitan” , le reconozcan a la mujer ese su derecho y le permitan ejercerlo. Hay comunidades (no necesariamente pueblos indígenas), sino comunidades campesinas, que no permiten a la mujer ocupar su tierra en calidad de propietario, no le permiten usar su propiedad para producir ni su alimento. Este es un tema que debiera ser incorporado desde ´la enseñanza primaria en la currícula de las escuelas.
Pareciera que con los dos factores arriba señalados, pareciera que es suficiente, sin embargo, pareciera que en algunos casos la limitante o impedimento para que la mujer ejerza su derecho sobre la tierra, es la propia mujer. Algunas veces por desconocimiento de sus derechos (que no es extraño en algunas áreas rurales) y otras veces por la fuerza del medio, que imposibilita a la mujer exigir, en muchos casos, el cumplimiento de las leyes. Le llamo “la actitud mental de sumisión” adoptada por muchas mujeres, es como si la pobreza estuviera ligada a una actitud sumisa, pareciera que la pobreza trae consigo y abrazada a la timidez. Es muy difícil que mujeres que viven en pobreza, demanden el reconocimiento de este derecho, ya sea porque lo adquieren por viudez o por haber sido beneficiarias del Estado.
En pueblos indígenas es mucho más complejo. Los títulos de la propiedad en un pueblo, están a nombre del pueblo, pero no puede negarse que internamente hay una distribución de la tierra. En este proceso se escuda detrás de los derechos comunitarios, el desconocimiento de los derechos de las mujeres y más aún en matrimonios inter étnicos, en los que luego de una separación, la mujer queda totalmente desvalida y sin ninguna protección e la comunidad.
Muchas mujeres de las áreas rurales, engrosan gradualmente las áreas periféricas de las ciudades, no sé si en mejores o peores condiciones de pobreza, pero siguen pobres y siguen con muchas dificultades para acceder a una seguridad alimentaria, en el marco de los derechos humanos.
Es posible seguir enumerando las limitaciones para que la mujer acceda a la tierra, para que la mujer ejerza su derecho ciudadano de mujer en igual condición que el hombre… aunque este es otro debate.

(Sorry for bad English - below is in good Spanish. Thanks!)

1. Successful examples of women claiming their rights;

The best examples I can remember about women demanding their recognition of their land rights, and refer to those women who managed to participate somehow in the process of consolidation of land ownership.

The "people" male and female applicants took part in following the process of clearing and exercised social control over the process. To be fair participation, international cooperation contract (with acceptance by the State) to Non Governmental Organizations, to support civil society in this accompanying the process of clearing of land ownership and social control through sensitization about their rights, reinforced and in some cases (for language limitations) in the exercise thereof.

This process has affected the empowerment of men and women who took their rights and fought for their compliance. Today, some people are owners.

This possibility is mainly for women who demand their right to individual ownership of land, not community.

2. Examples of policies and instruments that promote women's rights to land;

The Agrarian Reform of 1953, Bolivia recognizes the right of women to land, provided it is a widow and mother.

The National Service Act 1996 Agrarian Reform fully recognizes the rights of women to land, regardless of their marital status. This law also states that women should be part of the process of consolidation of land ownership.

In Bolivia there was no land policy of the government as a formal document, such as positioning and government policy guidelines. But there was the law that was applied.

The items set forth in this legal framework, were the basis for some changes that profoundly reinforced the recognition of women to land. For example, recognizes the right of women to land regardless of their marital status and also establishes that if the woman is married or cohabiting with a partner (not formalized), has the same rights of man that his name appears on the title of land ownership.

In 2008, the Government actually performing, issued the "New Land Policy" in this document the word "woman" three times and without any reference to land rights or the exercise of deciding on the use of it. For its part, the Constitution of the State, is broad recognition of equal rights between men and women. When it comes to land, there are gaps that are not yet filled.

3. The role of women's organizations;

On the role of women's organizations is essential, because as organizations have greater incidence and impact on the demand of their rights and exercise them.

For example in the Guaraní People's Assembly, before the existence of the Organization of the village, the women gathered around organized and productive projects that allowed them to achieve food security. This was the seed that germinated with (in addition by a series of political circumstances and context), the Organization of the Guarani People's Assembly, one of the most important indigenous organizations in Bolivia, the indigenous peoples of the lowlands.

There are also rural women's organizations, today participants in the ongoing process of change, with strong advocacy on government actions to recognize the right of women to land, and to be recognized as active players in economic development ne of the country and food security.

When women organized in the demand for their land rights, there are greater chances of success, if they did individually.

4. The broader policy context.

In the broader policy context, beyond that they were written, it is important the political will for implementation. It is also important to have the voice of women demanding the fulfillment of their rights and some ability to demand the recognition of these rights.

The most important gap in Bolivia, even without work, is the recognition of land rights for indigenous women, who through the Community right of peoples, women are totally invisible.


1. Ejemplos exitosos de mujeres que reclaman sus derechos;

Los mejores ejemplos que puedo recordar sobre las mujeres que demandan su reconocimiento a su derecho sobre la tierra, están referidos a aquellas mujeres que lograron participar, de alguna manera, en los procesos de saneamiento de la propiedad agraria.

Las “personas” hombres y mujeres demandantes participaron en el acompañamiento al proceso de saneamiento y ejercieron un control social sobre dicho proceso. Para que su participación sea equitativa, la Cooperación Internacional contrató (con aceptación del Estado) a Organizaciones No Gubernamentales, para que apoyaran a la sociedad civil en éste acompañamiento al proceso de saneamiento de la propiedad agraria y el control social, a través de una sensibilización sobre sus propios derechos, apoyándolos además y en algunos casos (por las limitaciones del idioma), en el ejercicio de los mismos.

Este proceso ha incidido en el empoderamiento de hombres y mujeres, que asumieron sus derechos y lucharon por el cumplimiento de los mismos. Hoy, muchos de ellos propietarios.

Esta posibilidad, se da principalmente en aquellas mujeres que demandan su derecho por la propiedad individual de la tierra, no comunitaria.

2. Ejemplos de políticas e instrumentos que promuevan los derechos de las mujeres a la tierra;

En la Ley de Reforma Agraria de 1953, reconoce en Bolivia el derecho de la mujer a la tierra, siempre y cuando sea viuda y madre de familia.

La Ley del Servicio Nacional de Reforma Agraria de 1996, reconoce plenamente los derechos de las mujeres a la tierra, independientemente de su condición civil. Esta ley también establece que la mujer debe ser partícipe del proceso del saneamiento de la propiedad agraria.

En Bolivia no hubo una política de tierras, como documento formal del gobierno, como posicionamiento y lineamiento político del gobierno. Pero sí hubo la Ley, que fue aplicada.

Los artículos establecidos en este marco legal, fueron la base de algunos cambios que reforzaron profundamente, el reconocimiento de las mujeres a la tierra. Por ejemplo, reconoce el derecho de la mujer a la tierra independientemente de su situación civil y además establece que si la mujer es casada o conviviente con su pareja (no formalizado), tiene los mismos derechos del hombre para que su nombre figure en el título de propiedad de la tierra.

En el año 2008, el Gobierno, en actual ejercicio, emitió la “Nueva Política de Tierras”, en este documento aparece la palabra “mujer”, tres veces y sin ninguna referencia a su derecho sobre la tierra o al ejercicio de decidir sobre el uso de la misma. Por su parte la Nueva Constitución Política del Estado, si bien es amplia en el reconocimiento de la igualdad de derechos entre hombres y mujeres. Cuando se trata de tierra, hay vacíos que aún no están llenados.

3. El papel de las organizaciones de mujeres;

Sobre el papel de las organizaciones de mujeres, es fundamental, ya que como organizaciones tienen mayor incidencia e impacto en la demanda de sus derechos y el ejercicio de los mismos.

Por ejemplo en la Asamblea del Pueblo Guaraní, antes de la existencia de la Organización de este pueblo, las mujeres se organizaron y reunieron en torno a proyectos productivos que les permitió alcanzar una seguridad alimentaria. Esta fue la semilla con la que germinó (además por una serie de circunstancias políticas y de contexto), la Organización de la Asamblea del Pueblo Guaraní, una de las organizaciones indígenas más importantes en Bolivia, de los pueblos indígenas de las tierras bajas.

Asimismo, hay organizaciones de mujeres campesinas, hoy partícipes del actual proceso de cambio, con una fuerte incidencia política en las acciones del gobierno para el reconocimiento del derecho de las mujeres a la tierra, así como para ser reconocidas como actoras activas en el desarrollo económico del país y ne la seguridad alimentaria.
Cuando las mujeres participan organizadas en la demanda de sus derechos sobre la tierra, existen mayores posibilidades de éxito, que si lo hicieran individualmente.

4. El más amplio contexto de políticas.

En el más amplio contexto de políticas, más allá de que las mismas estuvieran escritas, es importante la voluntad política para su implementación. También es importante que exista la voz de las mujeres demandando el cumplimiento de sus derechos y con alguna capacidad para demandar el reconocimiento de éstos derechos.

El vacío mas importante en Bolivia, aún sin trabajar, es el reconocimiento de los derechos a la tierra, para las mujeres indígenas, que a través del derecho comunitario de los pueblos, las mujeres quedan totalmente invisibilizadas.

Land to the women or to ensure land rights to the women is eco- political issues. This issue is directly related to the reform of the state character. Without political negotiation this is very impossible to insure land to the women however political pressure is must. To change feudal power structure, to change M dominating production relation and to change the cultural position of female in every household,  state character have to change because these all are directly/indirectly related to states’ policy making nature. In all change process all political issues have to be deal politically and same things should be followed on this issue also. To make overall change, to insure land rights to the women, very strong women/people peaceful movement should have to be organized, which will create positive environment/pressure for political negotiation and to reform the state power relation.  To get ultimate result in land rights to the women, bottom level land rights movement (land to the women movement) support to make environment for political debate of the issue, empower women to political dialogue, unified people around movement and support progressive political forces  for change.

Keshab Dahal

Abhiyan Nepal, Sunsari

From the Gender Studies Network on LinkedIn, two comments below.

Thank you very much for your contributions!


Arthur Eveleens • I agree with you Ndahafa. At the same time, however, we also need to do something as men of this globe.

I certainly agree with equality before the law, which, ironically, means that, if I was a judge (which I am not, just for purposes of discussion), gender, race/ethnic group, sexual orientation, religious views (assuming that one was not deliberately harming others on the basis of these views) and so on and so forth would not even come into the equation. Having due regard to all of the evidence presented, I would sentence, for example, a corrupt banker for being a corrupt banker and a murderer for being a murderer.

Lady Justice (Justitia), a symbol of law, is often depicted with scales in one hand and a sword in the other, and a blindfold. In my view, this blindfold does not, and should never, stand for ignorance. It stands for the impartiality of proper law, hence the foregoing comments.

Women should have land rights and more rights in general in societies where such rights for women are absent. That is beyond doubt. In societies where women have equal rights under properly drafted and impartially enforced law, however, they must bear in mind that they also have responsibilities.

For example, if I remember correctly, the motto of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is 'Fiat panis' (Let there be bread). In my view, food security should be a human right, not a gender right.

MG Chandrakanth from India shared the below via e-mail – thank you very much for contributing!

“I have a few ideas towards this. There are umpteen number of developmental programs offered by developmental departments for farmers and people  in rural areas. India lives in villages said the Mahathma Gandhi. Hence it is crucial that women in rural areas need to have secured rights to land. However more than 90 percent of land titles are in the name of the male farmer. Only in the case of widows, the title to land gets transferred to the widow before she subdivides the land rights to her children. Thus, a women gets title, largely in the case of widowhood. 

Another way of giving title to land to women is to make it compulsory for farmers in India to have the land in the name of farm women in the case of receiving benefits from developmental programs such as subsidy for tractors, subsidy for power tillers, subsidy for horticulture, drip irrigation, sprinkler irrigation and so on, so that unless the farmer transfers the title to the farm women, he will not be eligible to receive the benefits.

There are developmental programs in India which demand that the property is exclusively registered in the name of female. The details were provided by Ms Kavyashree, former PDO, on 29th July 2011 when she gave a lecture to my students, as I am teaching a course on Developmental programs in Karnataka State. The credit for this should go to Ms Kavyashree.

The housing schemes (scheme of building house for houseless people, who are below the Poverty Line) house will be registered in the name of female. Requirement is that the person should have a 'site' which can be in the name of 'male', but the house sanctioned under the scheme will be in the name of 'female'.  The schemes are:

1. Ashraya yojana which pays Rs. 40,000 per house

2. Ambedkar yojana  which pays Rs. 40,000 per house for SC/ST families

3. Indira Awas Yojana which pays Rs. 60,000 per house - the house is registered in the name of female, and can also be registered in the name of both wife and husband.

4. Basava Indira Yojana which pay Rs 63000 per house for those living in huts or very old houses

One such program is the Indira Awas Yojana where dwelling units are constructed for SCs/STs, freed bonded laborers and rural poor below poverty line."

Dear all,
Gender play key roles in land use and pastoral livelihoods, but recognition and appreciation of the roles of women and men , let alone, support for them, have not been very common among researchers, government officials, and quite often, among herders themselves as well.
In the beginning period of implementing our study , there was no common understanding about the importance of equal participation in NRM or about paying attention to social and gender dynamics, but over time, this attitude has changed. Herders and other stakeholders in pasture land use have started to understand the importance of the women’s roles in the decision-making for creating sustainable systems of land management. Also, the herders’ knowledge of the sound use and protection the natural resource base, and their skills and ability to use this knowledge in real life has improved. Paying attention to social and gender issues has contributed to this enriched knowledge.
The team paid attention to gender aspects of local organization, researching how different social and less privileged groups, such as women, were looking at the formation of a community, how they would envision their roles, and what the constraints were they were facing and how to overcome them. One of our interventions was the establishment of women groups in all pastoral communities and their increased participation in the decision-making for NRM. They brought their ideas to community meetings. The establishment of women groups facilitated the provision of gender equity in land and natural resource management and created an environment to support women’s participation in co-management of natural resources. It also encouraged women’s initiatives to protect land use rights and natural resources according to traditionally inherited knowledge and customs of nomadic pastoral societies.

Dismas BIRINGANINE Coordonnateur de l'ONG APRODEA (République démocratique du Congo)

Les femmes défendent leurs droits fonciers par 3 voies notamment :

Les femmes leaders sont formées  en plaidoyer et lobbying. Les femmes formées  organisent des conférences et ateliers où elles invitent les décideurs politiques, coutumiers pour expliquer le droit foncier des femmes et présentent leurs cahiers de charge aux autorités afin de  recouvrer leurs droits.

L'APRODEA comme ONG de proximité qui accompagne  les structures dans cette problèmatique mènent le plaidoyer auprès des services des cadastres pour  sécuriser les terres des femmes victimes de spoliation  par la délimitation  et la délivrance des titres fonciers  (certification de propriété), mais avant ceci le code foncier est vulgarisé ainsi que la loi sur l'héritage car c'est là où les problèmes se posent car dans milieux traditionnels lorsque l'homme meurt souvent les fils ainés qui héritent  ravissent les champs à la veuve et à ses enfants et le redistribuent à sa propre progéniture. Ceci étant APRODEA est préoccupé pour vulgariser la loi sur l'héritage qui stipule  que la veuve  a droit à 50% des biens de son mari (y compris 50% des champs)+1/8 de ce qu'on a distribué et tous les enfants doivent  en avoir y compris  les filles. AINSI une fois les femmes informées, elles revendiquent  leurs droits.

Fait à Bukavu, le 25  janvier  2012

Further to my previous comment, when laws exist, women often don’t have access to legal services or legal literacy to be able to claim rights. Here is an example from Tajikstan on this: Tajikstan established 16 District Task Forces (DTFs) to provide legal advice on land rights. Between 2003 – 2008, staff provided legal advice to approximately 14,000 rural women and men and as a consequence, the proportion of farms registered to women rose from 2% in 2002 to 14% in 2008.

Just access to land by a woman is incomplete to define secured women land rights. There must be access to, control over and ownership on land. Along with access to land the major aspects to include are control over and full ownership on land as it directly empowers women economically, politically and socially as well as enhances decision making capacity of women regarding land issues. Secured women land rights can be in the terms of single ownership on land or through joint ownership on land.
In Nepal, the tax exemption policy launched by the government on registering the land on the name of a woman has been proven an effective means to aware people about the issue on women land rights. So far there is the increasing trend on registering the land on the name of a woman to gain the benefits of tax waiver. But major question to answer here is whether it’s just an issue of access to or it covers both control and ownership on land .The percentage of women land entitlement has increased but along with access do women have developed controlling power and have total ownership on land to be termed as secured women land rights? Controlling power and ownership can be defined as whether women is able to make her own decision on land matters like to sell it, mortgage or how to use the entitled land without any hegemony.
Regarding the women land rights still we cannot deny that there is over rule of customary law over statutory rule in women land rights. Presence of patriarchy society hinders a woman to gain secured women land rights as it is a long process to change the perception of me towards women land rights Women organization and government can be an effective tool to create awareness campaign for women land rights but along with it focus should be made on women education they must be informed and aware of their land rights as women land rights issues are merely taken into consideration as well as to create interest for land rights.
A secured women land right is a must for women as land rights are human rights which ensures gender equality. Development programs should just not only focus on women health, employment, education etc. but should encompass secured women land rights also. So I think secured women land rights is one of the most vital and effective way to enhance decision making power on land, stronger control over land and to uplift the status of women and a paradigm shift regarding land rights.
- Pabitra Sharma,College of Development Studies and MODE Nepal.

The achievement of a group of Mozambican rural women who recently obtain their own land titles is a good example of African rural women learning and standing up for their land rights.
Since 2006 FAO has been working with the Juridical and Judicial Training Center (CFJJ) of the Ministry of Justice in Mozambique to provide legal education to rural people through paralegal training courses. These courses were designed to ensure that the ordinary rural citizens of Mozambique are not only more aware of their rights, but are able to successfully use these rights in pursuit of economic and social benefits, and learn how to defend these rights when necessary, by recourse to the justice system. Gender, land and women’s rights have always been included in the training modules. Even if there are good laws in the country that recognize and defend women’s rights over land and natural resources, the traditional system based in discriminatory practices against women always prevent then to fully exercise their rights. Through the paralegal training courses the FAO/CFJJ program has been working to change the negative aspect of custom by sensitization on the advantages of gender equality to the whole society and the legal education on land and women’s rights, to enable then to exercise and defend their rights.
Even if this work is necessarily slow and incremental, because to promote gender equality and women’s rights in Mozambique means having to “change the culture” - and this takes time - a good example of the positive impact of the programme is the recent achievement of a group of paralegals which has obtained land titles in favour of vulnerable women in Sofala Province, in the central region of Mozambique.
After the paralegal training course, when they went back to their working areas this group of 11 paralegals - from a local NGO called AMUDEIA - held community sessions at local level to sensitize rural people about their rights and started direct support to women in vulnerable situation who were at risk of losing their lands due to traditional discriminatory practices. Each paralegal took the cases of three women, and recently the first three land titles were issued.
It is extremely relevant the fact that all process to formalize the land rights of these women, which is really complex, was carried out by these paralegals without external technical support.
Marianna Bicchieri, FAO Land and Gender Project-Mozambique

Dear All,

Greetings from Community Development Association.

We would like to thank FAO, IFAD and ILC by taking these initiatives and to giving us opportunity to send our motivation to participate in this event. We believe that FAO,IFAD and ILC shall become successful in this mission.
The following steps could be taken to expressions of interest to represent ILC at side event of 56th CSW upon our experiences:

Though Community Development Association is not a Women Organization but a facilitating to inspire or to promote any development centered organizations of any vulnerable sections especially rural women since its inception 1986 and now it has approximately 34000 women members in 1350 nos.of small groups are integrated with 488 village based Landless Peoples Organizations.this is a 50% of men members within the Peoples Organization.The role of these POs are to recover the Public resources from the traditional Land grabbers and criminals especially Land and water bodies as well as forestry in the local context by using their empowerment.

In a real sense CDA believes that the formation of unity of the women such as women's Organization or the in association with the men in the same villages the Gender sensitive Peoples Organizations if they are really empowered (constitutionally & UN/CDAW) from the learning and experiences and can demand together to claim rights. Through mobilization by the women's organizations with the support from the facilitating organization or the gender sensitive people centered Organization create the movement of participation in the different political and administrative tyres women can establish their access to the justice system to claim land rights and demand land rights and reformation. Besides, increasing Women’s representation in the local govt bodies as well as in the parliaments to adopt the legal reform to secure the women's rights and access to justice.

A phase wise structural empowerment support may appropriate need to mobilize with the specific issues of the women at the grassroots from village level to constituency level capacity building of the women leadership and reinforcement requires partnership considering the social political and economic context.

In addition the Women's Peoples Organizations could be a support mechanism not only for the women possibly for the entire vulnerable groups may lead as the mechanism of their empowerment through knowledge sharing, information base and effective role would be strengthened in decision making.

Right based and participatory, people to people communication are to be considered as the approaches to make the women's voices to get support from the policy-makers. Besides, the media campaign can mobilize and realize the issues of women in the society as well as to the authority level.

Related policy issues towards equal land rights for women besides inheritance laws based or formulated on traditional or religious to some extent could be advocated to reform and replicated or promoted secure land rights for women. CEDAW and ratification of public land distribution could be affordable tools to secure land tenure.

Land use is moving away from traditional agriculture towards commercial agriculture, the situation led women to miserable transforms in their livelihoods. Women have lost their agricultural land and form of production, making difficult to continue their previous partially survival livelihoods and take up any kind employment for low wages which is under poor conditions.

Finally women themselves can increase women's control over the land and the resources, run their own production, control market, get profit directly and enhance their status and well being.

However this idea we can express primarily to start online discussion from our end.

How can we secure women's land rights in India

For my Ph.D Research the Research problem I have choosen is "An Economic study of Livelihood Security of Farm Women". I had my colloquim today madam.

Regarding how can women land rights be secured:

In a country like India or in most developing countries where male child with birth will have title to land but its not the case with regard to female child, what I personally feel is that the government should come up with laws to see that its compulsory that every female child as soon as it takes birth should automatically gets the equal right as that of male child no doubt that supreme court has already come up with such a law but if women goes for asking her share(In court) in the family she will be thrown out of family and she will not be allowed to participate in any of the programmes that takes place in community, hence a strong law has to be built in such a way that depending on the family tree the shares of assets has to be partitioned equally, so that women will be strongly secured with their rights and no body can steal her rights and also once the married women she enters her husband home the property of husband should be converted to joint titles in the name of both husband and wife.

Thanking You,

Yours sincerely,
Sakamma, S
studying II Ph.D, in Department of Agricultural Economics of University of Agricultural Sciences, G.K.V.K, Bangalore. Hope you remember me yesterday Dr.M.G.Chandrakanth sir introduced me through mail.

Women's land right is a serious issue neglected by political parties, social movements and religious groups. It is important to understand the dynamics. We discuss a lot of issues and some time ignore vital issue and that is that the precondition for equality in our law is a secular constitution. India, we have that which has given equal rights to all. Our constitution remain secular though our society remained caged in caste mind and feudal structure even today. Therefore, land reform was another prerequisite for that.

It is important that the writ of secular constitution run large and the constitution is amended according to the needs and times of people. The biggest obstacles in the way of women is tradition and culture. Every loot is allowed in the name of religion and culture. Women are not yet declared as farmers in India because farmers organisations oppose that. They fear that declaring women as farmer would automatically make her eligible to acquire agricultural land in the parental property. It is an irony that women who do over 70% work on land is denied that right. Our farmers movement reflected the feudal caste character where women's entry itself was prohibited.

We must demand women right in her parental property. Like every male progeny woman's name should be entered in the family register for all the land deals. The second thing is joint titling also. But joint titling do not function as in the concept of 'ideal' women, the constitutional provisions are also relegated to nothing. We demand that women be given land in groups. In India there are no group entitlements, no entitlements for village ponds, village common land. If the idea of commons through women is promoted, it will succeed. Women could be given entitlements to hold village pond, village lake, orchards and other things. This will give them power to bargain with banks too. right now she has no access to credit but even when she will have access to credit in the joint ownership, it will help husband most of the time, unless women are made to feel that they have their independent identity and that marriage does not end her individuality. Unfortunately, our activists do not work on those line. They use traditional methodologies in glorifying every thing that is past in the name of tradition which has hampered women's growth.

We have used new humanism to bring these question back and many of our women are now questioning every wrong. They want to be at their own and not at the mercy of their families.

Once the women have right over property, access to credit and mental power to be at her own, she will challenge the status quo. Today, we demand special provisions for single women, widows, women from the most marginalised sections of society to be given preferences in land redistribution. Unless women's right over resources is not recognized, the fight for equality and social justice will remain a dream only.

Also, what about women's land rights in times of weather variability? Women's land rights need to be secured even more in times of crisis. Women and men react and adapt differently to climate change ( and therefore it is essential to take women's needs into account to minimise the negative impacts coming from climate change on the community as a whole. For this, women's access to technology is also crucial (as well as access to land, credit and property). See more:

I am from Pakistan which is predominantly a tribal-rural as well as increasingly turning as religious society, where in general women are under tremendous pressure caused by tribal traditions, falsely understood religious beliefs which push them to marginalization.  If we talk about land rights for women, in my opinion this priority comes down under the list! I am saying so because women here deserve basic human rights such as living as a free will person, decide about their education, choice of person for marriage, choice of having children or not, seeking their identity as a citizen having equal rights as men. However social indicator shows that we as Pakistani society are far away from that. Women in rural areas still treated as "property" or "honor object" for men and these are their fathers, brothers and sons who decide about their fate. In this scenario we have observed that even a women is awarded land by the state, she can not manage it, like a man does, because of so many reasons, such as she cant go to the market, negotiate, she has no access to information etc. So we have seen that practically the land is again managed by her spouse of relative. So this is a basic fault in the society which still doesn't give a space to the women and they have to face many limitations.  I don't want to be pessimist but trying to say that we have to cover a long distance on the road and and give women their deserving place in the society, by strengthening laws, and creating a favorable environment. We should also encourage civil society to create space for women and then we have to introduce certain laws which ensure daughter to get equal land share in inheritance like sons get. Also when state distribute land to landless farmers, it should be given to families i.e. husband and wife, and even in case of divorce women should not lose her share. We need to create certain opportunities for women which is must, then the real benefit of land reforms reach to women

World Bank on Rwanda's land regularisation program

I want to share excerpts from a World Bank Paper on Rwanda -  a good example of how a change in law can improve women’s land rights. For details and references, please check the original paper, available online. Of course, one should bear in mind that Rwanda has been at the forefront of promoting gender equality, including through quotas for political representation, and has the largest percentage of female parliamentarians in the world, so that seems to be a very enabling context!

Rwanda's land tenure regularization program has had a dramatic impact on women’s land rights. A World Bank working paper (Authors: Daniel Ayalew Ali, Klaus Deininger, and Markus Goldstein, August 2011) evaluates the short-term impact (some 2.5 years after completion) of the pilots undertaken, with three key findings emerging from the analysis:

  1. the program improved land access for legally married women (about 76 percent of married couples as registration at the local commune is legally required) and prompted better recordation of inheritance rights without gender bias.
  2. the analysis finds a very large impact on investment and maintenance of soil conservation measures. This effect was particularly pronounced for female headed households, suggesting that this group had suffered from high levels of tenure insecurity, which the program managed to reduce.
  3. land market activity declined, allowing rejection of the hypothesis that the program caused a wave of distress sales or widespread landlessness by vulnerable people (with women often more vulenrable, especially female-headed households).

“In Rwanda, formalization of women’s land rights helped to expand their land access and tenure security while clarification of intended inheritance (by registering the claims over land parcels of minors) increased clarity.

As is common in customary systems, women in Rwanda formerly had land use rights only through their husbands whose lineage controlled the land, implying that their right to own or inherit land was severely compromised. In fact, widows were unable to inherit their deceased husband’s property and at most were allowed to use it until male children grew up. Those without children lost even use rights to family land unless they maintained family ties by marrying one of their husband’s brothers. The 1999 inheritance law changed this by advancing in three areas. First, daughters and sons are granted equal rights to inherit their parents’ property. Second, subject to the provisions of the family law (which under the most common conjugal property regime mandates equal shares), property rights by women under a legally registered marriage are protected. Third, spousal consent is required for transaction (e.g., sale, mortgage or exchange) of matrimonial property by any of the marriage partners. Nevertheless, the law does not protect property rights by women who live in marriages that are unregistered or arrangements, including consensual unions, customary or religious marriages, and polygamous unions, that are not formally recognized

The 2004 Land Policy put forward general principles for efficient and sustainable use of scarce land resources and called for a legal and institutional framework to achieve these. The 2005 OLL provides the legal basis for the necessary arrangements. One of its key provisions is to establish a single statutory system of land tenure in order to end the dualism created by parallel existence of customary and formal tenure systems. Ownership of land is vested with the state; landholders are provided long-term, usufruct rights (up to 99 years, depending on land use) that can be sold, passed on to heirs, mortgaged, leased, or otherwise transferred.

Clarification and documentation of rights reduced uncertainty over who would inherit land, with substantial benefits for female children who might otherwise have been discriminated against. This program also provided large additional gender benefits. Legally married women were significantly more likely to have their informal ownership rights documented and secured after registration. But women who were not legally married saw diminished property rights, in accordance with the law. And girls residing in female headed households were less likely to be designated as heirs.”

The Constitution of Kenya, 2010 and the National Land Policy, 2009 have clearly and strongly outlawed all forms of discrimination against women.

Article 27(3) of the Constitution states that, 'Women and men have the right to equal treatment, including right to equal opportunities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres.Further to this, Article 60 (f)states, '...elimination of gender discrimination in law, custom and practices related to land and property in land..'

However, even with the existence of such provisions, women especially widows, single mothers and divorced women continue to suffer in silence. Women are treated like property and land is categorized among the properties that women can not own.

Women especially in the villages are not aware of means and ways to protect themselves against unfair treatment in such a patriarchal society.

Co-ownership of land among spouses is a thing yet to be embraced in the grass root level. This is why cases of eviction of women after the death of their husbands are too common.

The Matrimonial and Property bill, 2011 is one bill that has tried to unravel the mysteries of matrimonial property in a quest to secure the land rights of women in marriage.

However, the journey towards the realization of women rights is not easy due to existing retrogressive cultural practices that many subscribe to .

The powerful legal provisions must be accompanied by efforts to change peoples' attitude to appreciate the values land rights for women

Uganda: succession and inheritance

I am a State Attorney working with the Administrator General's Office in the Ministry of Justice & Constitutional Affairs of Uganda. We handle matters of succession or inheritance.
I am passionate about women's rights. As you probably are aware, women who enjoy land rights are more likely to enjoy or enforce a multitude of other rights. Nevertheless, in Uganda and internationally, women's rights movements have largely ignored succession or inheritance issues, law, and policy.

Most Ugandans/Africans acquire property through inheritance, either from parents or spouses. Making Succession Laws gender-neutral is the surest way to empower women in Africa/Uganda. Since women have traditionally not owned land, at least they should have a chance to inherit it from the men in the next generations. Women in the rural areas will get a chance to own the land that they farm.

There is currently ongoing a process by the Uganda Law Reform Commission to amend the Succession Laws of Uganda. I am part of the National Succession Law Taskforce mandated to ensure that a new Succession Law regime is introduced in Uganda. From the fieldwork we have thus far conducted, the situation of women is appalling.

Women are not expected to inherit from their fathers or mothers because the idea is that they will get married and take the property to another clan or family or even tribe. Similarly, they are not allowed to inherit from their husbands usually because they are lumped together with children in sharing or enjoying rights to the property left behind by their partners or spouses.
At the death of the spouse, the woman only remains in possession to "look after the children". In other instances, the close relations of the deceased argue that widows should not get any share because they will or may remarry.

To make matters worse, property owned by women is usually taken by the clan (brothers and male relations are the power-brokers in these clans), after the death of the woman, because the woman's children usually do not belong to her clan.

Although all of us on the National Taskforce are awake to gender issues and committed to ensure that the new law does not discriminate against women and girls, the situation 'on the ground' is different.

You should undertake a massive project in this direction to ensure that women enjoy equal succession rights with the men. Once these rights are enshrined in the Law, massive sensitization will follow, making it easier to protect and enforce these rights.

There is no other project that can conceivably empower women more than strengthening their rights to inherit property from their husbands/fathers.
Traditionally, men own property. So by empowering women to enforce their succession rights, you are sort of redistributing wealth and thereby correcting past injustices.

I assure you it is the easiest way to economically empower women in Africa/Uganda. In addition, this is a great chance to influence the direction of similar legislation in neighbouring countries, particularly those of a Common Law dispensation.

Robert Bogere

ActionAid report “Farming as equals. Women’s rights and gender equality makes the difference” takes seven concrete examples of policy interventions which highlight good practice for focusing on women farmers. One good practice example is taken from Guatemala and focuses on women farmers mobilizing for land rights and participating in government processes.

Women in Guatemala have been mobilising for land rights since the beginning of the peace process in 1993, led by the Alianza de Mujeres Rurales (Rural Women’s Alliance). With support from a range of international groups, the Alianza has made significant progress in women’s rights to land in Guatemala through the process of coownership.

It has participated in national level advocacy work with the Rural Development Law demanding its approval and implementation and has generated changes in legislation on women and land.

The Alianza has demonstrated that women’s fulfillment of their right to land is connected to women’s decisionmaking capacities in terms of production, diversification and income-generating activities such as handicrafts and alternative economies.

The example of Guatemala shows how the participation of women’s organizations in agricultural policy leads to more equal outcomes in terms of land rights and access to resources. At the same time, if land reforms are carried out in tandem with broader empowerment programmes then women’s decision making power can be enhanced. Investing in rural women’s organizations supports the achievement of these goals.

For more info:

Women’s land in Tanzania

Reading the other contributions, it is clear how we all believe in the high importance of strengthening women’s land rights. Both for the goal of overall rural poverty eradication, as well as – equally - for the sole purpose of the fulfilment of women’s right on equal terms with men. Therefore, I especially agree with the comment of Pabitra Sharma (made on the 28/01/2012, see below) who stressed the differentiation between women’s access to, as well as control and security of land rights.

As part of my recently completed master’s thesis on women’s land rights of Tanzania, I conducted an in-depth research on the local tenure governance situation in the Shinyanga region;… in contrast to formally existing regulations. By law, Tanzanian women are granted the right to land and both male and female children are granted the right to inherit land (Land Rights Act 1995). Moreover, with the Village Land Act, 1999, customary land rights are eligible to the same statutory protection as formal land titles and can be registered after the process of issuing collective village land certificates has been completed.

On the ground however, women are still strongly discriminated in their access and ownership of productive resources, especially land. Based on the beliefs of the Sukuma culture, which constitutes the dominant tribe of the researched region, tenure is a traditionally male status symbol, indicating the ability to serve for a family. Consequently, inheritance is traditionally patrilineal and tenure is predominantly held in male hands. Only a few unmarried, divorced or widowed women have been able to acquire or inherit land rights.

This leads to the first point of discussion:
1) Successful examples of female landholders and supportive policies:
The findings from Shinyanga showed that an increased awareness on women’s legal right to land since the law’s adoption has had a significant impact. This was achieved as information was distributed in an accessible and comprehensible manner for the farmers: For instance, village councils as part of the decentralised governance structure have conducted meetings of educating the community members of women’s rights. In addition, different NGOs have contributed to raising awareness on the issue.

As a result, women have started to inherit land rights. Nevertheless, these inherited access rights to land were mainly restricted to usage rights, not including control or any independent security of the holding. Though positively, even widows whose children have already left the homestead (the tradition practice did only grant land to widows for the children’s upbringing) have begun to be granted land usage rights on the husband’s former property. Childless widows however, usually still returned to their natal family’s land.

In addition, the raised awareness has reduced the social taboo, which was attached to women who would acquire land in their own name. However, these liberalised rights’ notions are restricted to the sphere outside of the family (women without a male spouse) and hence, do not apply for married women. Within private spheres, patriarchal gender roles continued to dominate and the issue of a woman owning her own land or the topic of joint-ownership between husband and wife remained un-touched and un-discussed.

2) Policies and tools that promote women’s land rights:
Women’s legal right to land and related policies of spreading awareness on the Act have proved to be supportive tools. Yet another tool resulting from the administrative decentralisation of the Tanzanian government was found to bear great potential to strengthening women’s land rights. In Tanzania, village councils are authorised to issue local documents on customary tenure rights as an intermediary possibility to secure land rights - until the systematic registration of village land property is completed (by the mid of 2010, the Tanzanian government was running pilot projects in two of total 129 districts) -. This form of local documentation has received increasing acceptance among the villagers and provides a timely accessible and affordable protection for secure their customary tenure. However, only men’s names are listed on issued documents. Moreover, the villagers only document purchased land holdings, while inherited lands are still governed by clan elders and social recognition. This implies that women’s interest in marital land is highly vulnerable to the husband (especially since marriages are mostly undocumented in rural areas). Moreover, female heirs have – despite the growing expectations of land inheritance – no security of the actual reception of the property. And as stated above, women’s land inheritance does mostly not include control rights and are ‘managed’ by other male siblings or the husband’s family.

Nevertheless, the executing village functionaries stated their awareness on the possibility of listing women, as well as of certifying inheritance divisions. This possibility of documenting women’s derivative rights on household property as well as women’s inherited land rights constitutes a promising opportunity to improve the highly vulnerable situation of women with no independent ownership and no security of their derivative access to resources. In addition, as part of the research findings, women stated that if they would know that they have document rights on property, they would indeed feel more secure and even more confident to claim other rights from their male relatives.

Moreover, the village council constitutes an accessible institution for women, who are often restricted in their travels and activities outside the household, and hence, often shy with their engagement in the public sphere.

Therefore, as a conclusion of my thesis, the promotion of awareness of the possibility of joint-registration (women’s rights as spouses with interest in marital land property) was recommended as an important measure to support women’s rights. In addition, documenting inheritance divisions deserves strong endeavour, as women have begun to inherit land rights, which are however sole occupancy rights without finite control over the holdings. In this sense, the example of Rwanda which has been pointed out by Mrs. Pallas is regarded as a guiding role model of achieving increased security of spousal interest in land and better inheritance recordation (incl. intended inheritances).

To achieve this goal in Tanzania, I believe raising awareness on these possibilities of recordation among the farmers is essential. Moreover, especially village functionaries should be trained to actively promote the increased equal land interest documentation without gender-bias. In addition, women’s participation in the village bodies must be further encouraged.
(An interesting article on ‘The contribution of local governments’ from T.Hilhorst) can also be found in the Dec. 2011 issue of the ‘Farming Matters magazine)

4) The wider policy context:
The above elaborated suggestions and opportunities of action are even more of urgent importance as public land acquisition for the purpose of infrastructure developments is taking place in the researched district. In line with the local customs of sole male-held ownership, only men are consulted as landholders in matters of receiving compensation for acquiring plots (based on the name listed on documents or ownership identification by village functionaries). The findings from Shinyanga showed how especially female heirs without any protection of their holdings are highly dependent on the family members’ goodwill to share the received compensation.

In addition, the progressing formal registration of land holdings (see 1) will most likely be based –if available – on existing local tenure documents. To prevent that future registrations do accelerates and stipulates gender inequality and male dominance over property, the promotion of increased, un-gendered local tenure documentation is perceived as a promising opportunity to take the goal of women’s access to secure land rights a step forward.

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact me:

Digest 3:

Dear participants,

What a great range of contributions we have had over the last few days, thank you everyone for sharing your knowledge!

It seems to me that one of the key issues emerging is co-ownership of land for spouses and how to promote it, especially at the village level where tradition stipulates otherwise. An added complication is that many couples do not register their married status. It is the beliefs and attitudes of people on the land, including of women themselves, that many of our contributors mention as a major obstacle to change.

Other important points made included:

-          Mere access to land is not the same as secure land rights, which imply control and usually ownership. In Nepal, there has been an increase in titles in the name of women due to the tax waiver, yet questions remain on whether women truly control the land in their name, in a context where customary practices are still predominant. Women’s organisations can contribute to changing attitudes, as can government. (Pabita Sharma).

-          In India, similarly, secular laws that guarantee women’s equal rights are blocked by the biggest obstacles: religion and culture. Even farmers’ organisations do not define women as farmers because they fear that this would make women eligible to inherit agricultural land. One suggestion made is to promote group farming for women, i.e. for the commons to be managed by women, giving them bargaining power in the community (Vidya Bushan Rawat).

-          If women are being denied basic human rights, like deciding whom to marry and how many children to have, investing in land reforms that give equal rights to women may result in land being managed by a male relative, even if the title is in the woman’s name. One suggestion is to put all such titles in the name of husband and wife (Tanveer Arif).

-          The recognition of women’s land rights in law – regardless of age, marital status, and motherhood – is a crucial first step but not sufficient. Such laws are often not implemented, particularly in patrilineal inheritance systems, and women are still strongly discriminated in their access and ownership of productive resources on the ground (Laura Berger). Enforcement should be more effective, for instance in terms of inheritance rights of the girl child (S. Sakamma). Education from a young age is of summary importance to change attitudes towards women as landowners and farmers (Eileen Wakesho), including of women themselves to overcome a “mental attitude of submission” (Gaby Gomez-Garcia)

-          One of the most relevant laws when it comes to women’s land rights is succession law, as women, for instance in Uganda and much of Eastern Africa, continue to acquire land mainly through inheritance – yet the girl child and widows are disadvantaged or ignored in inheritance. Making such laws gender-neutral could contribute hugely to women’s empowerment (Robert Bogere, Laura Berner).

-          Increasing women’s awareness of laws that guarantee their rights can have a huge impact if information is disseminated in an accessible manner and can reduce the “social taboo” of women controlling land (Laura Berger).

-          Increasing the representation of women in decision-making at all levels, administrative and political, is extremely important and strengthening women’s leadership is key to achieve this (Shah Mobin)

-          There should be special provisions for single women, widows, women from the most marginalised sections of society to be given preferences in land redistribution – a kind of affirmative action (Vidya Bushan Rawat).

-          The land rights of indigenous peoples are complex: they may have a common property title, but internally, land is distributed – and the community rights can act as a shield behind which the lack of recognizing women’s rights disappears from view leaving them in a vulnerable position. In Bolivia this is one of the main problems that remains to be addressed (Gaby Gomez-Garcia).

-          Paying attention to social and gender dynamics benefits the entire community: Women pastoralists have an important role in the sustainable management of natural resources, and working with women, including through the establishment of women groups aimed at enhancing participation in decision-making, has contributed to improving the knowledge of sustainable resource management (Ykhanbai)

-          In the move toward commercial agriculture, women are more vulnerable to losing their feeble rights, often pushing them to take up employment for low wages and in bad conditions (in Bangladesh); women are also increasingly moving to urban areas (in Bolivia)

-          Public investment in land, e.g. for infrastructure, as other pressures on land, continues to have a strong impact on women as they are seldom consulted as landholders and do not receive compensation, this makes them dependent on other (male) family members goodwill (Laura Berner).

-          Women’s land rights in the context of climate change was another important issue raised – women react and adapt differently and thus responses to climate change need to take women’s needs into account (wikigender).

On the role of women’s organisations, our participants agree that it is a crucial one, which is very encouraging:

  1. in Bolivia women’s organisations had an important role in instigating building broader movements, for instance the Assembly of the Guarani people (Gaby Goméz Garcia). In Nepal, similarly, strong women’s movements played a key role in empowering (grassroots) women and influencing national policy, in support of progressive political forces (Keshab Dahal);

  2. in DR Congo, women defend their land rights by three means: women leaders advocating through conferences and workshops to which decision-makers, including customary leaders, are invited; through NGOs advocating with land administration institutions to secure titles for women; and NGOs working to disseminate the content of legislation in a format accessible to women, because women that are informed will claim their rights. (Dismas Biringanine);

  3. in Mozambique, incremental work on raising women’s awareness of their legal rights and the training of paralegals (in a context in which custom prevails over laws that recognise and defend women’s rights over land) shows that “changing the culture” is possible! (Marianna Bicchieri);

  4. in Guatemala, women have mobilised for their land rights by participating in national level advocacy work to influence the formulation of the Rural Development Law, to include, for instance, co-ownership. The participation of women’s organizations in agricultural policy here lead to more equal outcomes (Rosanna).

Examples of policies and instruments that promote women’s land rights were provided from Bolivia, India, Kenya, Nepal, Rwanda, Tanzania and Tajikistan. Please see the individual posts for more detail. You can also reply directly to any of the posts below if you have comments or questions!

Finally, if you want to check what references there are to women’s land rights in international conventions and treaties, please check these posts we made recently on the Land Portal:

This discussion will continue until Monday, so please continue to contribute. After that, you can always sign u to the Land Portal to continue sharing information!

Best, Sabine

Recopilación 3:

Estimados(as) participantes: ¡Que gran variedad de aportes recibimos en los ultimos dias! ¡Gracias a todos por compartir sus comentarios!

Me parece que uno de los temas clave es lo de la co-prepriadad de la tierra para los cónyuges y como se puede promover, especialmente a nivel de los pueblos, donde la tradición estipula lo contrario. Una complicación adicional es que muchas parejas no registran su condición de casados. Son las creencias y actitudes de la gente, incluso las de las mujeres, que muchos de nuestros participantes mencionaron como uno de los principales obstáculos al cambio.

Otros puntos importantes se incluyen:

  • El mero acceso a la tierra no es lo mismo que obtener derechos seguros sobre la tierra, que implican control y, por lo general, propiedad. En Nepal, hubo un aumento en los títulos a nombre de las mujeres gracias a una exención en los impuestos, sin embargo, persisten dudas sobre si las mujeres realmente controlan la tierra a su nombre, en un contexto donde las prácticas tradicionales siguen predominando. Las organizaciones de mujeres pueden contribuir a cambiar las actitudes, al igual que el gobierno. (Pabita Sharma).
  • En India, de manera similar, las leyes que garanticen la igualdad de derechos para las mujeres estàn bloqueadas por los mayores obstáculos: la religión y la cultura. Incluso las organizaciones de agricultores no definen a las mujeres como agricultoras, porque temen que las mujeres sean elegibles para heredar la tierra agrícola. Una sugerencia es promover la agricultura de grupo (“group farming”) para las mujeres, es decir, que los bienes comúnes (“the commons”) sean gestionados por las mujeres, dándoles poder de negociación en la comunidad (Vidya Bushan Rawat).
  • Si a las mujeres se les niegan los derechos humanos básicos, como decidir con quién casarse y cuántos hijos tener, invertir en reformas agrarias que dan a las mujeres los mismos derechos puede resultar que al final la tierra sea controlada por un pariente de sexo masculino, aunque el título se encuentra a nombre de la mujer. Una sugerencia es poner todos los títulos a nombre del esposo y dela esposa (Tanveer Arif).
  • El reconocimiento de los derechos a la tierra para las mujeres en la ley - sin importar la edad, el estado civil, y la maternidad - es un primer paso, crucial, pero no suficiente. Estas leyes a menudo no estàn aplicadas y deben aplicarse de manera más eficaz; por ejemplo, en términos de derechos de herencia de las niñas (S. Sakamma). La educación desde una edad temprana es sumamente importante para cambiar las actitudes hacia las mujeres terratenientes y agricultoras, incluido las actitudes de las mujeres, que necesitan superar una "actitud mental de sumisión" (Gaby Gómez-García).
  • Aumentar la representación de las mujeres en la toma de decisiones a todos los niveles, administrativos y políticos, es sumamente importante y fortalecer el liderazgo de las mujeres es un paso clave (Shah Mobin).
  • Se debe tener disposiciones especiales para las mujeres solteras, viudas, las mujeres de los sectores más marginados de la sociedad, para las cuales se debe dar preferecia en los procesos de redistribuciòn de la tierra – una especie de discriminaciòn positiva (Vidya Bushan Rawat).
  • Los derechos sobre las tierras de los pueblos indígenas son complejos: pueden tener un título de propiedad común, pero "internamente" la tierra es distribuida - y los derechos de la comunidad pueden ser un escudo tras el cual la falta de reconocimiento de los derechos de la mujer desaparece de la vista, dejándo las mujeres en una posición vulnerable. En Bolivia, este es uno de los principales problemas que queda por abordar (Gaby Gómez-García).
  • Prestar atención a las dinámicas sociales y de género beneficia a toda la comunidad: las mujeres pastoras tienen un papel importante en la gestión sostenible de los recursos naturales, y trabajar con las mujeres, incluso mediante el establecimiento de grupos de mujeres que miran a aumentar la participación en la toma de decisiones, ha contribuido a mejorar el conocimiento de la gestión sostenible de los recursos (Ykhanbai)
  • En el movimiento hacia la agricultura comercial, las mujeres estàn más vulnerables porque perden sus derechos, que ya son débiles, segun procesos que a menudo les obligan a aceptar un empleo de bajos salarios y de malas condiciones (en Bangladesh); ademàs las mujeres migran cada vez màs hacia las areas urbanas (en Bolivia).
  • Los derechos de las mujeres a la tierra en el contexto del cambio climático es otro tema importante que se planteó en la discusiòn - las mujeres reaccionan y se adaptan de manera diferente y por lo tanto las respuestas al cambio climático deben incluir las necesidades de las mujerer (wikigender).

Sobre el papel de las organizaciones de mujeres, los participantes coinciden en que es un tema crucial, lo que es muy alentador:

  • en Bolivia, las organizaciones de mujeres tuvieron un papel importante en la mobilizaciòn de movimientos más amplios, por ejemplo, la Asamblea del pueblo Guaraní (Gaby Gómez García). En Nepal, del mismo modo, importantes movimientos de mujeres desempeñaron un papel clave en el empoderamiento de las mujeres de las bases y en el influir en la política nacional, en apoyo de las fuerzas políticas progresistas (Keshab Dahal);
  • en la República Democrática del Congo, las mujeres defienden sus derechos a la tierra por tres medios: las mujeres líderes a través de conferencias y talleres a los cuales los tomadores de decisiones, incluidos los líderes tradicionales, son invitados; a través de las organizaciones no gubernamentales que defienden con las instituciones de administración de tierras para asegurar los títulos para las mujeres; y las ONG que trabajan para difundir el contenido de la legislación en un formato accesible a las mujeres, porque las mujeres informadas reclamaran sus derechos. (Dimas Biringanine);
  • en Mozambique, el trabajo incremental en la sensibilización de las mujeres sobre sus derechos legales y la capacitación de paralegales (en un contexto en lo que la costumbre prevalece sobre las leyes que reconocen y defienden los derechos de las mujeres sobre la tierra), muestra que "cambiar la cultura" es posible! (Marianna Bicchieri);
  • en Guatemala, las mujeres se han movilizadas por sus derechos a la tierra atraves la participaciòn en trabajo de incidencia a nivel nacional para influir en la formulaciòn de la Ley de Desarrollo Rural, incluyendo por ejemplo, la co-propriedad. La participación de las organizaciones de mujeres en la política agrícola conduce a resultados más equitativos (Rosanna Scaricabarozzi).

Los participantes han proporcionado muchos ejemplos de políticas e instrumentos que promueven los derechos de las mujeres a la tierra, en Bolivia, India, Nepal, Ruanda y Tayikistán. Por favor, consulten las entradas individuales abajo para más detalles. ¡También pueden responder directamente a cualquiera de las contribuciones de abajo, si tienen preguntas o comentarios!

Finalmente, si quieren comprobar las referencias a los derechos a la tierra para las mujeres en las convenciones y tratados internacionales, por favor revisen las paginas que hemos hecho recientemente en el Land Portal:

Esta discusión continuará hasta el lunes, así que por favor sigan contribuyendo. Después de eso, siempre les invitamos a registrarse en el Land Portal para continuar el intercambio de información!

Saludos, Sabine [Traducido por Luca]

APDH met en œuvre des projets de promotion des droits de la femme rurale dans la communauté à travers les actions de leur renforcement des capacités en droits humains, les actions de leur autonomisation et les actions de leur participation dans les structures communautaires de prise de décisions. Toutes les actions menées sont focalisées sur la consolidation des groupements communautaires de promotion des droits de la femme encadrés par les agents de l’APDH et dont les responsables font à leur tour des action de vulgarisation des lois et conscientisations des communautés sur l’équité sociale, ainsi que des actions d’orientation et accompagnement des victimes de violation des droits de propriété. Après cinq ans de renforcement des groupements communautaires en matière des lois et gouvernance, une vingtaine de réseaux communaux de promotion des droits de la femme dans la communauté est opérationnel depuis un an. APDH compte renforcer ces réseaux en vue d’une conscientisation accrue des communautés pour l’équité sociale.
En plus des actions menées directement envers les communautés de base et les actions de recherche sur l’application des lois, APDH mène des actions envers les hautes institutions de prise de décisions dans le pays en vue d’éclairer sur la nécessité de création d’un environnement légal tenant compte de l’équité sociale et de l’épanouissement socio économique de chaque citoyen sans discrimination aucune.
Depuis six ans, le Burundi est dans un parcours délinquant de gestion poste conflit après dix ans de guerre civile. De multiples réformes ont été initiées dans plusieurs domaines de la vie du pays mais leur mise en œuvre a été souvent lacunaire. Des efforts spécifiques sont encore à fournir dans le domaine de gestion foncière en vue de capitaliser les bonnes pratiques en la matière et de faciliter la garantie des citoyens à leurs droits fonciers.

Ernest KAMWENUBUSA, Burundais, juriste de formation, travaille chez APDH depuis 2007 successivement comme chargé de renforcement des capacités des groupements communautaires en matière des lois et gouvernance, Coordonnateur de projet de promotion des droits de la femme dans la communauté, Chargé de Programme Genre et Gouvernance.

The Government of India and the State governments have consciously fostered an enabling policy environment in which women’s concerns are properly reflected, articulated and seriously addressed. Following are few things which I would like to highlight.

1. Reservation for women in grass root level democratic institutions.
Reservation has created a space for women’s needs within the structural framework of politics and legitimized women’s issue. It has empowered women both politically and socially. Due to the reservation of seats many women were elected to local bodies. At present there are approximately 260000 panchayath representatives in India, out of which around 75000 are women making it the largest number of the elected women in the world.

On the negative side the fact is that the elected women representatives are treated as puppets in the Panchayathi Raj Institutions. Most of them remain silent spectators to the proceedings of the panchayati meetings and rarely participate in the discussions.Training programmes are organized regularly to give leadership training to the women elected representatives.

Some of the Salient features (with respect to women rights )of Karnataka Panchayath Raj Act (KPRA)1993, are
*the quorum for the meeting of a ward sabha should be as far as may be, not less than thirty percent of the voters attending the Ward Sabha, shall be women. and that of Gram sabha should be not less than thirty percent of the members attending the Grama Sabha shall be women.
*The Grama Sabha may constitute sub-committees consisting of not less than ten members of whom not less than half shall be women, for in-depth discussion on issues and programmes for effective implementation of decisions of the Grama Sabha and in furtherance of exercise of powers and discharge of functions of Grama Sabha. This is to ensure women participation in decision making,
*Standing committees such as Social Justice Committee shall consist of at least one member who is a woman

2) Generic requirements to avail facilities under any Economically Weaker Section (EWS) housing programs are as below
*) Beneficiary must be houseless.
*) Beneficiary must belong to Below Poverty Line (BPL) category
*) Beneficiary must be a married woman or a single woman-headed household. The
exceptions are ex-servicemen, widower, physically handicapped persons and senior

3)Under Ashraya-Rural House Sites which is a Scheme to provide free house sites to site/houseless beneficiaries of EWS in Rural Areas, Hakku Patra (Title deed) should be distributed in the name of wife. In case of unmarried male/widower beneficiary, it can be distributed in their names.

4)Under Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY), there is a provision for vulnerable groups- SC/STs at least 50% of swarozgaris; Women- 40%, minority 15% and disabled 3%.

5) Under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act,
*Equal wages will be provided to both men and women and the provisions of the
Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 shall be complied with..
*While providing employment, priority shall be given to women in such a way that at least one-third of the beneficiaries shall be women who have registered and requested for work under the Scheme.
*Separate individual accounts for women members of the household may be opened in the case of male headed households.

6) Articles 14,15(3),16,23,39(a),39(b),42,51(a)(e),300(A) of our Indian Constitution guarantees Women rights in India.

Please let me know if anything else is required from my end.

Thanks and Regards,

Judy Adoko (LEMU - Land and Equity Movement, Uganda) sent us a set of documents to contribute to the on-line discussion. Thanks Judy! I am sure your perspective on women's land rights and customary tenure is enriching our discussion, and providing new answers to our questions.

You can find the documents on a page of the Land Portal, Women's land rights and customary tenure in Uganda, as well as by following the links below:

Judy sent us also a number of resources on land grabbing, with some references on women’s land rights, that you can access here: Lets fact upto land grabbing

As a pre-view of the work done by LEMU, an excerpt from one of the documents mentioned - Fighting the wrong battles? Towards a new paradigm in the struggle for women’s land rights in Uganda - follows (but we invite you to read it entirely!)

Gender equality vs Traditional culture

The conventional starting point in the battle is often the ‘fact’ that traditionally women are not allowed to own land. The aim is then to replace traditional systems of ownership (‘customary tenure’) with more ‘modern’ laws which give women rights. The ‘best’ way to do this, it is argued, is to help women get titles to land. Titling land takes it out of customary rules: a woman with freehold title is fully equal to a man with freehold title. The State Courts can then protect her rights if a man tries to take control over her land. The objective then becomes to increase the number of women holding titles. The proportion of titled land owned by women (7%) is frequently quoted as an indicator of gender equality in land rights – a quite bizarre idea, for a country where over 80% of land is held without title, since it says absolutely nothing about the situation for the vast majority of women in the country. The situation for this rural majority is not improving. Their land rights are frequently violated by members of their own families. We believe that the strategy has failed because it is based on a wrong premise, that according to custom, women cannot own land. As a result, we have fought the wrong battle - against ‘tradition’, instead of fi ghting for the cultural rights that women feel exist, but which are being violated. A central part of the campaign was for ‘co-ownership’, i.e. for land owned by a man before marriage to be legally considered the joint property of husband and wife on marriage. This continued to be resisted by men, and in rural areas, the resistance comes because it is seen as giving a woman individual ownership over land, in a culture where all land is family land. Men and women who value the principle that land is family owned are told that their culture is discriminatory and backward.

The individual violations of women’s rights are often treated in the same way. When a widow is thrown off her land by her in-laws, men and women are told that their culture is wrong, not that those who throw widows off their land are wrong. The widows themselves feel very keenly the injustices practised against them by their families or communities, but the denigration of their own culture leaves women feeling that somehow their own specifi c injustices are not really related to the agenda of the activists, that the abstract campaigns for equality, and against their own culture, that are being urged upon them are not the same battle as the one which they are fighting for, which is for their land rights not to be violated by land grabbers. Small wonder that the fight for their own rights is too often seen as foreign, or ‘something from Kampala’. [...]

[You can read the full version here]

IFAD experience in Burundi

I would like to share an interesting IFAD experience in securing women's land right.

The Programme transitoire de reconstruction post- conflit (PTRPC) in Burundi is being implemented to restore the productive capacities of rural communities in three provinces particularly badly affected by the civil conflict: Bujumbura Rural, Bururi and Ruyigi. Its overall aim is “to regenerate the livelihoods of rural communities, rebuild social capital, including the restoration of human dignity and of food security for vulnerable groups.” Land tenure for women is not explicitly mentioned in the design of the PTRPC programme but activities are carried out as part of the cross-cutting “local governance” component, and particularly via its subcomponent “legal support” through legal clinics which are working at the provincial level and are managed by female lawyers. The programme tackles the issue of women and land tenure by increasing awareness of the law to encourage women to exercise their rights, including their land rights when faced with non-egalitarian practices and acute discrimination in family relationships.

A very interesting video on PTRPC’s efforts to secure women’s access to land will be posted shortly on IFAD’s land page. More information on PTRPC can be found on IFAD’s website:

IFAD and securing women's access to land

Land is one the most fundamental resources to women's living conditions, economic empowerment and, to some extent, their struggle for equity and equality. However, due to economic, legal, social and cultural factors their rights to access, control and transfer land are weaker compared to those of men. IFAD wishes to pay greater attention and to better mainstream the strengthening of women‘s land rights into its operations: for this purpose, the Fund has developed the Women’s Land Rights Project that implies raise awareness and capacity building/training for IFAD headquarters and field staff; mainstreaming the strengthening of women‘s land rights through policy dialogue at country level; participatory research and analysis at country/project level; piloting and documenting of appropriate methodologies which strengthen women‘s land rights; and, sharing of lessons learned at country, regional and international levels.

Within this project, IFAD has coordinated some studies to investigate how women‘s land rights were taken into consideration and integrated into its operations. Case studies were conducted in different countries, i.e. Niger, Burundi, El Salvador, Tanzania and Rwanda. The aspects analysed in the studies are related to interventions that vary from legal support (Burundi), to technical assistance for leasing agreements (El Salvador); from trying out and analysing a methodology to support all the landowners, and providing a flexible mechanism for the acquisition of land titles that is accessible to vulnerable farmers and is suitable for large-scale replication (Niger) and land registration processes (Rwanda) to village land use planning (Tanzania). These case studies present profound differences, in terms of geographical context, design, interventions and actual implementation. However, they share commonalities as of problems faced, actions taken and results.

A regional one-day workshop in Mozambique was held on the 19th November 2010 on "Opportunities and Challenges for Securing Women’s Land Rights": case studies from Eastern and Southern Africa Region have been presented. For regional knowledge exchange, case studies from Western Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean Region have also been shared. The aim of the workshop was to share the experiences of the projects and programmes on women’s access to land, where findings, outcomes and lessons learned could be discussed. It is hoped that the workshop contributed to raising awareness on women’s land rights and their implication for poverty reduction and increasing participants’ expertise in analysing and dealing with these issues.

The case studies and workshop report will soon be shared on IFAD's women and land page:

Women pastoralists

Dear all,

I wanted to share excerpts from another publication, entitled “ THE LAND WE GRAZE: A SYNTHESIS OF CASE STUDIES ABOUT HOW PASTORALISTS’ ORGANIZATIONS DEFEND THEIR LAND RIGHTS” published in January 2011 by WISP (World Initiative on Sustainable Pastoralism) based on 21 case-studies, from 17 countries in four continents of how pastoralists successfully defended/asserted their land rights.

Especially interesting is the successful example of Samburu women in Kenya claiming their land rights.

“In women’s access to land, the link to traditional societal stereotypes is evident. In both Kenya and Kyrgyzstan, men are considered to be the head of the family and property owners. This is true even if men have emigrated and women are the de facto heads of their households (Kenya–Samburu). Women have rights to land via their spouses; widows inherit land in trust for their children. (Kenya–Samburu and Kyrgyzstan). For instance, in Samburu, Kenya, according to dominant cultural norms, livestock is given to, owned and managed by men; and it is only brothers, sons and brothers-in-law who are meant to inherit property. In local governance and decision-making, women have no rights to speak in public discussions and debates (Kenya–Samburu).

This is true in the customary traditions of Kyrgyzstan, even though the Soviet administrative system provided for equality through its system of centralized control and the formal legislation of the Kyrgyz State is now liberal and gender sensitive. For instance, in the case of Kashka Shu, men represented families in the Pasture Management Community, even though it was the women who managed and utilized the summer pastures. In India, the deterioration of the position of women pastoralists goes hand-in-hand with the deterioration of the position of pastoralism in society (India–MARAG).

In some cultures women have an equal position and are integrated in the decision-making processes regarding access to land and land management. In Nepal, in the Langtang community, women usually make decisions about pastureland management practices as men are away most of the year. The Nepali system also succeeds in integrating poorer and socio-politically weaker individuals. Another example is the Tibet AR case-study that describes steps undertaken by a community specifically to mitigate the impoverishment of a part of the livestock-keepers.”

Successful example of women claiming their rights:


In the Samburu district of Kenya most of the land is classified as Trust Land, which is a common property tenure system whereby land is managed on behalf of the people and is vested under local governing authorities in the form of County Councils. Each person owns land, but communally. The County Councils award use rights pertaining to Trust Land. In the case of Umoja Women’s Village, 15 women from different areas within Samburu approached the local council for land so they could live together within a village. They all escaped gender-based violence, inequitable gender relations and gender-based conflicts. Their intention was to help each other and to create a ‘good life’. They convinced the Council that this was a genuine activity and were allocated a small piece of land on a collective basis.”

Read the full document here:

Marcos legislativos que aseguran acceso preferencial a la tierra para mujeres rurales –

Por lo que yo conozco, en America Latina se observa la existencia de dos leyes, la Ley 731 de 2002 de Colombia para mujeres rurales y la Ley 717 de 2010 de Nicaragua para la creación de un Fondo de compra de tierras con equidad de género para mujeres rurales.

Ambas Leyes han sido el producto de una demanda de base de grupos organizados de ciudadanas, mujeres que han logrado desempeñar un papel político en el diseño de instrumentos para tutelar y favorecer las mujeres rurales. Sería interesante monitorear el nivel de implementación de estos marcos legislativos. En el caso de Nicaragua el Fondo todavía no existe.

Si es verdad que las políticas y las leyes prescinden las limitaciones de los proyectos de desarrollo y aspiran a satisfacer las demandas de todas y todos la/os ciudadana/os, es verdad también que la implementación de estos marcos legislativos encuentra muchos obstáculos. A veces, un pequeño proyecto tiene más resultados concretos de una política nacional.

En el caso de Colombia y Nicaragua así como en otros países en el norte y sur del mundo, las mismas promotoras que han logrado la aprobación de la ley tienen que ejercer continua presión para su implementación, monitorear presupuesto estatales y normas.

La exigibilidad de la ley es un paso fundamental en el ejercicio del derecho. Y las mujeres rurales y sus organizaciones necesitan respaldo también en este marco de acción.

Dear Land Portal members,

I wish to thank you all on behalf of the FSN Forum team for this lively discussion carried out in partnership with the FSN Forum (
Please find here the link to the complete list of contributions received, including those sent  through the FSN Forum and the Land Portal: almost 70 in 2 weeks!
We look forward to read and share with our members the summary and any further news on the upcoming CSW side event!

Best regards

Renata Mirulla
FSN Forum moderator 

In a Quest to Change attitudes and perseptions among Kenyan Communities.

The law in Kenya is quite clear as far as discrimination against women on land and property ownership. However, most women continue to languish in the effect of vast discrimination based on customs and retrogressive cultural practises.

Kenya Land Alliance, has embarked on a project aimed at realising women's land and property rights in kenya. Activities within the project include dialogue forums with council of elders from different communities.

Council of elders are instumental in upholding and maintaing cultural aspects within the community. The dialogue forums with such elders seek to make them appreciate the need to shun away retrogressive cultures that hinder women from owning property. The focus is on the constitutional provisions and the consequences of denying women the rights to own land on both economic and social angles.

The council of elders are in most cases male-dominated thus making them unconstitutional. This also presents a challenge when women issues have to be discussed and determined by men only who sit in th council of elders. The sensitivity of women issues among some cultures like wife-inheritance, property stripping for widows and persons living with HIV/AIDS need a gender lence.The project seeks to push for reconstruction of the composition of council of elders to ensure gender balance.

The project combines both change the need to change perseptions and attitudes, coupled by an emphasises on Constitutional provision.

The project concept is as a realisation, that creating awareness on constitutional provisions on women land ownership is not enough to cause change.

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