Backgrounder: Gender inequalities in land rights in Africa

| June 22, 2020

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Our Farmer story from Cameroon talks about child marriage for girls, our story from Burkina Faso shows how COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting women, and our Opportunity also focuses on women and gender equality.

In keeping with this theme, our Script of the week discusses another area where women are disadvantaged: land.

Land is a key economic and livelihood resource for women in Africa. Most women rely on land for their livelihoods and are responsible for much of the agricultural production. In sub-Saharan Africa, women make up nearly 50% of agricultural workers. But many women are either landless or have limited and insecure rights to land. The important role that rural women play in agriculture means that insecure land rights threaten not only their well-being but that of their children and their communities.

Improving women’s access to land is one way of increasing gender equality and addressing other important development goals. So far, efforts to improve women’s access to land have focused on agricultural land. This focus needs to be broadened to include access to other resources linked to land such as forests, water, minerals, and urban space.

This backgrounder contains the following sections:

  • Customary tenure and women’s right to land
  • What are the implications of insecure land rights for women?
  • Challenges to gender equality in land ownership
  • Positive efforts that support secure land rights for women