SECURING WOMEN’S LAND AND PROPERTY RIGHTS
A CRITICAL STEP TO ADDRESS HIV, VIOLENCE, AND FOOD SECURITY
“Gender inequalities in land rights are pervasive. Not only do women have less access to land than men. They are often also restricted to so-called secondary land rights, meaning that they hold these rights through male family members. Women thus risk losing entitlements in case of divorce, widowhood or their husband’s migration. Evidence also shows that women’s land parcels are generally of smaller size and lower quality than men’s.”
In many parts of the world, women’s rights to land and property are systematically denied. Laws give women fewer or less secure rights than men, and discriminatory attitudes and practices undermine them. This leaves many women almost entirely dependent on the men in their lives for basic economic survival and vulnerable to violence, poverty, and food insecurity, particularly if widowed, divorced, single, or in marriages not formally recognized.
As land resources are increasingly contested, these problems have worsened, particularly for rural women.Large-scale land acquisitions remove women farmers.Land degradation from desertification and climate change reduces the availability of fertile land for farming. Biofuel production increases competition for marginal lands (i.e. lands where soil conditions are less fertile or where land is generally less productive), which are often allocated to women farmers.5 Through all of this, women are often excluded from land negotiations because they lack official land titles.