Women Struggle to Secure Land Rights

Authored by: Mary Kimani

Categories: Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: Economic Participation, Human Development, Political Transitions
Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
Year: 2008
Citation: Kimani, Mary. "Women Struggle to Secure Land Rights." Hard Fight for Access and Decision-Making Power 22, no. 1 (2003): 10-13.

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Executive Summary

Published in Africa Renewal's Special Edition on Women, this article discusses the problems that African women have when it comes to accessing land after their husbands have died or abandoned them, as well as their inability to purchase land on their own. According to experts, women in Africa contribute 70 per cent of food production. They also account for nearly half of all farm labour, and 80–90 per cent of food processing, storage and transport, as well as hoeing and weeding. Yet, land rights tend to be held by men or kinship groups controlled by men, and women have access mainly through a male relative, usually a father or husband. Even then, women are routinely obliged to hand over the proceeds of any farm sales to a male and have little say over how those earnings are used. Moreover, such limited access is very tenuous and can be quickly lost. In response, activists are fighting to introduce or strengthen laws intended to give women more secure access to land and are combating social norms and practices that stand in their way. Despite many obstacles, they are making some headway.