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Land and tenure reform

  • Legislation should ensure that laws governing land administration, registration and land reform policies protect the rights of women and promote gender equality. Legislation should promote gender equality in access to land, including the right and opportunity to use, manage, control and administer land and its resources. Legislation should also guarantee that women’s access to land is enforceable and secure against illegal seizure. Legislation should ensure that women’s access to land is effective both financially and through infrastructure, such as roads, irrigation, and decentralized land administration procedures.
  • To ensure women’s effective and equal access to land, drafters should review, harmonize and guarantee gender equality across formal laws on property, inheritance, marriage, land use, and legal protection; customary and religious systems; women’s traditional status within the household, and; in women’s access to education, credit, and income. See: Komjathy, Katalin and Susan E. Nichols, Women's Access to Land - FIG Guidelines, International Federation of Surveyors; Global Land Tools Network, Shared Tenure Options for Women. Drafters should also undertake baseline studies and assessments to gain knowledge of the local situation, customs and practices. Studies should include a special focus on gender issues and input from women, the community and local leaders.
  • Drafters should ensure that reform of laws and land policies involve women and widows’ active participation and input from planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. (See: Komjathy, Katalin and Susan E. Nichols, Women’s Access to Land - FIG Guidelines, International Federation of Surveyors) Drafters must incorporate gender concerns in all aspects of land planning and reform. Promoting women’s economic and social rights, such as health and education, is an integral component to protecting women and widows’ rights in land. Also, drafters should take into account the specific context, including the political, social, traditional and customary background of land tenure and institutional capacities; incorporate gender considerations in terms of access to land, security of rights, and use of land; work in consultation with civil society that works with women, widows, the rural poor, and land and agricultural issues. (See: IFAD, Land Tenure)
  • Drafters should strive to ensure that tenure policies meet the following goals to facilitate good governance: sustainability, rule of law, subsidiarity, equity, effectiveness, efficiency, transparency and accountability, civic engagement and citizenship, security and promotion of women’s human rights. Also, drafters should refer to UN-HABITAT’s basic principles on land governance:
    • Government / national leadership is crucial, as is empowerment and capacity building at various levels in society
    • Changing policy or laws is not enough to resolve conflicting interests and to change discriminatory, corrupt and inefficient performance of land institutions
    • Only sustained, long-term interventions can resolve land problems and deliver secure land rights for all
    • Gender and minority groups must be handled as specific issues of concern
    • The interests of multiple stakeholders in land and multiple visions of land development must be reconciled
    • Outside agencies and development partners must coordinate strategies to engage in and support national processes

(See: UN-HABITAT, Secure Land Rights for All, 2008)  

Tool:

The Women’s Economic and Legal Empower Database for Africa (Women LEED Africa) provides indicators and links to the international conventions, constitutions and statutes for all 47 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa covering issues of women's legal capacity and property rights.

IFAD provides a question checklist for land tenure assessments: 

1.1. Would the current land tenure situation seriously hinder project implementation or undermine incentives for IFAD target groups to participate in project activities?

1.2. What are the likely distributional impacts – intended or unintended – of project activities on target groups and other members of the rural society?

2. The assessment should take into account potential influences of land tenure arrangements on livelihoods at household level (considering impacts on women, men, youth and the elderly), within communities (e.g. for different ethnic groups, sharecroppers and landlords), and between the community and outsiders (e.g. threatening of indigenous people’s land rights by mining companies).

3. The land tenure assessment should be based on:

3.1. A participatory poverty analysis that identifies for the intended project area the key elements of the land tenure system, including i.) types of land rights and their core features in terms of security, duration and inclusiveness , ii) main features of the land administration system (de facto and de jure), iii) interrelationships between land tenure and livelihood strategies.

3.2. An analysis of current land policy, including the legal framework and recent policy initiatives. (See: IFAD, Land Tenure)