Backgrounder: Gender inequalities in land rights in Africa

| April 18, 2022

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This edition’s story from Mali focuses on women who are fighting for equitable access to land. Our Script of the Week further explores this issue and investigates the factors that influence these gender inequalities. 

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 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 their well-being and 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 covers the following issues, among others: 

  • Customary tenure and women’s right to land
  • The implications of insecure land rights for women
  • Specific challenges to gender equality in land ownership
    • Tradition
    • Lack of awareness of laws and measures for solving land-related problems
    • Unequal and limited access to opportunities such as finances and farm inputs
    • Common misconceptions about the land rights of women
    • Predicted impact of climate change on the land rights of women
  • Positive efforts that support secure land rights for women
    • African regional responses
    • Country responses