Building Sustainable Peace and Prosperity through Women’s Land Tenure Security: A Zambian Case Study

Authored by: Roslyn Warren

Categories: Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: Economic Participation, Human Development, Political Transitions
Country: Zambia
Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
Year: 2013
Citation: Warren, Roslyn. Building Sustainable Peace and Prosperity through Women's Land Tenure Security: A Zambian Case Study. Washington, DC: Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, 2013.

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Although the pursuit of land has generated violent conflict for centuries, there remains insufficient understanding about how to craft and implement policies that engender land security instead of land anxiety. Looking at Africa in particular, land redistribution and resettlement legacies continue to thwart efforts to build sustainable peace and security. Lacking land-tenure security, millions of people, poor women especially, face eviction, displacement, and economic disempowerment, all of which raise tension and spread poverty instead of prosperity. Within these countries, patriarchal tradition mixes with an impenetrable property system, perennially disempowering women. While these practices impact many dimensions of human security and essentially shut out more than 50 percent of the native population’s capacity to produce, there is little appreciation for how women’s lack of land security contributes to state fragility. By examining the situation in Zambia and connecting those findings to current development and security literature, this study builds a bridge between women’s equitable and secure access to land, and sustainable prosperity and peace in Africa, thereby shedding light on new dimensions within the women, peace, and security field, which demand far more research and analysis. This paper begins by unpacking first-hand accounts collected in Zambia. This research shows how the interaction between Zambia’s state and customary governance structures lock out the most marginalized. In combination, legal blockades and patriarchal customs systematically disempower women, thereby compounding the vulnerabilities of these women and all who depend upon them. This study then details how women’s lack of land-tenure security impacts poverty, health, food security, and economic development, and argues that securing women’s property rights lays at the foundation of Zambia’s sustainable development. Next, this paper offers a series of proposed solutions and best practices for how to advance policies that secure Zambian women’s property rights. Directly following, this paper zooms out to examine the concept of land-tenure security within current academic debates relating to sustainable economic development and violent conflict. Finally, this study situates women’s land-tenure security into existing national and international frameworks for promoting global peace and security. In doing so, this paper elevates women’s land access and ownership as fundamental to human development and survival, and, therefore, essential for sustainable peacebuilding.