Women and Land | Land Portal | Securing Land Rights Through Open Data

Resource information

Date of publication: 
January 2011
ISBN / Resource ID: 
International Development Research Center (IDRC)

Here it is an important book on Women's Land Rights, published by the International Development Research Centre. The book's authors, Debbie Budlender and Eileen Alma, also draw from the outcomes of the 3 year collaborative project entitled “Securing Women’s Access to Land: Linking Research and Action”, coordinated by the International Land Coalition (ILC), the Makerere Institute for Social Studies (MISR) of Makerere University in Uganda, and the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) of the University of Western Cape in South Africa, and funded by IDRC.

[From the IDRC website] Land is an important source of security against poverty across the developing world, but, in many places, unequal rights to land put women at a disadvantage, perpetuates poverty, and entrenches gender inequality. Surprisingly little detailed information exists on women’s relationship to land, and even less is informed by women themselves. This book aims to help fill that gap, drawing on research funded by IDRC over many years.

The core of the book focuses on recent findings from sub-Saharan Africa, where researchers in 14 countries explored the topic from many angles – legal, customary, political, and economic. Researchers from non-governmental organizations, academics, and grassroots activists worked together with communities on the research, exploring the experiences of women in specific contexts.

Grounded in local realities, the evidence gathered in this book aims to capture the diversity and complexity of women’s experiences. Most importantly, it provides fresh insights for policymakers and others working to secure women’s rights to land and thus strengthen the communities in which they live.

You can read this book on-line, download or buy it [in English and Spanish] on the IDRC website.

The Authors. Debbie Budlender is a specialist researcher with the Community Agency for Social Enquiry, a South African non-governmental social policy research organization. Eileen Alma is a program officer at Canada’s International Development Research Centre, where she focuses on the political, economic, and social rights of marginalized women.

[From the executive summary] Lessons learnt: Grounded in local realities, the evidence summarized in this book aims to capture the diversity and complexity of women’s experiences. Most important, it provides fresh insights for policymakers and others working to secure women’s rights to land and, thus, strengthen the communities in which they live. Here are a few of the most important lessons:

  • Participation-oriented research methods are much more likely to bring about immediate benefits than other, more traditional research methods.
  • Merely passing legislation is of little effect without the necessary resources for implementation, without informing and educating all relevant actors on the provisions of the legislation, without monitoring the reforms, and without effective sanctions on failure to implement.
  • It is crucial both to consult and involve women when designing reforms and monitoring their implementation.
  • Women’s access to land does not simply hinge on a choice between customary and statutory systems. Rather, we are faced with a more complex question of how the two systems interact and are used by different groups of women and men. The research also emphasizes the need to think about customary law as “living” and evolving.
  • Addressing land injustices requires varied approaches that streamline and consolidate numerous land laws in a given country. It is vital to establish and maintain links among research, policy, practice, and people.
  • The importance of providing teaching and training in a variety of disciplines for a young generation of women in Africa cannot be overstated.


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