Mozambique is a State Party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa. Over the last two decades, the government of Mozambique has developed legal and policy frameworks to align its legislation with core human rights instruments, promote gender equality, and foster women’s land rights. Mozambique has gained considerable international recognition for these important efforts.
Nevertheless, high levels of gender inequality and discrimination persist. Many women do not fully enjoy fundamental human rights, especially in rural areas. Their land rights are frequently violated due to discriminatory customary practices; consequently, they are denied a wide range of land-related human rights such as the rights to food, shelter, and an adequate standard of living.
This Article analyzes the reasons for the gap between commitments de jure, local practice, and customary norms. It describes how, in a context of legal pluralism, efforts to address gender inequality and protect women’s land-related human rights often fall short because of the government’s inability to align and harmonize statutory and customary law. Moreover, the great divide between urban and rural realities, in a country where most of the population live in rural areas, seems to be frequently overlooked or disregarded by decision makers. Consequently, legal and policy frameworks that could pave the way to enhanced gender equality are ineffective, because they remain mostly ignored by the population. Given the gap between commitments de jure, local practice, and customary norms, the Mozambican case shows that merely passing legislation is insufficient to enable rural women to fully enjoy their land-related human rights.
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The Stanford Journal of International Law is a biannual student-run law journal covering international law, including public international law, comparative law, human rights, international relations, and international trade.