Tuesday, June 12, 2012


PUBLICATION: Final Report from the 2011 African Women’s Land Rights Conference

The purpose of the The African Women’s Land Rights Conference was to “re-energize the struggle for women’s land rights and access to justice and reparation as fundamental human rights and the basis for women’s empowerment, and improved food security and social justice in Africa”. The conferences final report is now available online:

Despite development of land policy reform at continental, regional and national level women’s tenure in land remains legally insecure as a result of the existence of discriminatory laws, multiple land law regimes operating simultaneously, and gender-neutral statues. The land reform discourse fails to take into account women’s socially and legally constructed disadvantages and confer equal land right to women and men in form but not in substance. There is need for a deeper understanding of the complexities at stake for women land rights in the context of increasing land grabs, climate change, a gendered analysis of the impact of land reforms, a deep knowledge and understanding of the different tenure systems and their impact on women’s ability to access, own and control land and how women’s land rights can be protected in the context of land grabs; and the role that common land management systems which traditionally protect access rights for the poor, women, pastoralists, and others can be restored. The complexity of tenure systems requires complex policy solutions, which should be tailored to respond to cultural, political and ecological demands at multiple levels. The implementation and impacts of land tenure reforms should be evaluated at multiple governance levels in order to identify constraints, craft solutions, and to ensure that reforms are securing the rights and livelihoods of women, the poor and marginalized groups.

Land reform and giving legal recognition to women’s rights to land is often the first step necessary to promote gender parity in land and property rights. The battle for women’s land rights does not end with the enactment of the laws providing for equal rights to women and men. It begins with the challenges of implementation and what is needed to change culture of practice, a task that is more difficult than enactment of law, and which greatly affects whether or not rights are realised.

The full report and more information about the conference are available here.

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