Women need secure access to and control of land in order to realise their human rights. In order for the women to realise their land and inheritance rights it is important for the policy makers to have in place mechanisms and institutions to guide practice. This report sets out the status of women’s land and inheritance rights in Lesotho. The aim is to provide a consolidated baseline which can inform policy making, implementation and monitoring.
Women in Lesotho negotiate land rights in an environment characterised by increasing competition over land. Climate change related drought, commercialisation of land, globalisation, conversion of agricultural land, high rates of urbanisation and HIV and AIDS are some of the processes that fuel competition for land in Lesotho.
The environment in which women negotiate for land is characterised by multiple land governance institutions which align compete and at times contradict. The co-existence of statutory and non- statutory institutions governing land allocation and inheritance creates a complex environment which offers opportunities and challenges for women’s land tenure. The regulatory environment within which women negotiate access to land has been improving as a result of legislative and institutional changes introduced by the government of Lesotho. The number of women benefiting from land allocation, land registration and land inheritance has increased as women take advantage of the new environment to negotiate secure land tenure. However, Implementation failure, limited awareness of the new laws, inconsistency in the application of the law, capacity limitations and the continued dominance of patriarchy and male biased norms undermine women’s land rights.
The state, development partners, non- governmental organisations, the private sector and the traditional land governance institutions all play a key role in addressing gender inequality in land access and inheritance in Lesotho. These institutions formulate policies, mobilise and provide resources, invest in innovations, and support the processes underway to increase women’s land tenure in Lesotho.
The sustained change towards gender equality in land allocation and inheritance in Lesotho will make a positive difference for the women in Lesotho. The mobilisation of rural women, consolidation of various initiatives to secure women’s land and inherence rights, consolidation of land inheritance laws and multi-sectoral approaches are some of the recommendations of this report. The report contributes to this effort by providing a basis for the consolidation of the various efforts towards securing women’s land rights in Lesotho.
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