Women's Land Tenure Framework for Analysis: Land Rights

Renee Giovarelli and Elisa Scalise · Sep 22, 2016

IV. Analyzing the Customary Law Framework

Page Contents

This page will highlight a few areas for analysis.

To jump to one of the sections on this page use the below links:

Legitimacy

  • Does the customary land governance system recognize women’s rights to own land?
  • Under what circumstances? (What if a woman is married, single, divorced, widowed, remarried, has children out of wedlock or children from a former marriage?)
  • What is the nature and scope of this right? Is it different from the rights of similarly situated men?
  • Does the customary land governance system recognize women’s rights to control land?
  • Under what circumstances? (What if a woman is married, single, divorced, widowed, remarried, has children out of wedlock or children from a former marriage?)
  • What is the nature and scope of this right? Is it different from the rights of similarly situated men?
  • Does the customary land governance system recognize women’s rights to use land?
  • Under what circumstances? (What if a woman is married, single, divorced, widowed, remarried, has children out of wedlock or children from a former marriage?)
  • What is the nature and scope of this right? Is it different from the rights of similarly situated men?
  • Does the customary land governance system recognize women’s rights to exercise decisions over land and income from the land?
  • Under what circumstances? (What if a woman is married, single, divorced, widowed, remarried, has children out of wedlock or children from a former marriage?)
  • What is the nature and scope of this right? Is it different from the rights of similarly situated men?
  • *Is polygamy practiced?
  • *If yes, do wives live separately or together with their husbands? Does each wife live in her own house, or is there another arrangement?
  • *Does each wife have her own piece of land allocated for her use?
  • *Are there any restrictions on polygamy (e.g. number of wives, etc.)?
  • Who decides when and whom a person should marry?
  • Who receives it?
  • Does it ever include land?
  • Who determines the amount?
  • Do men bring land and/or housing to a new marriage? 
  • Are men allocated land by their families upon marriage?
  • How are land rights allocated within marriage?
  • When a couple marries, do they keep separate control over the land they brought to the marriage?
  • If new land is purchased during marriage, who does it belong to?

Vulnerability

  • At what age do girls customarily marry?
  • Does it make a difference whether they are rich or poor?
  • What must occur for a marriage to be considered finalized under customary law? (i.e. brideprice must be paid, dowry must be given, etc.)
  • What happens when a woman separates from or divorces her husband?
  • Can she return to her parents’ home?
  • Does it matter whether or not she has children?
  • Does it matter whether the children are girls or boys?
  • If she has to return home, is land allocated to her?  By whom?
  • Do women who leave their husbands receive any land from his family?
  • Do they receive any other property or assets? 
  • Who decides this (e.g. husband, judge, tribal leader, etc.)?

 

  • Is this decision appealable?

 

  • What is the process a woman has to go through to receive land if she leaves her husband? What about with other property/assets?

 

  • Does this differ if she is the first wife, the second wife, or a later wife?
  • Does it change if she has children? Sons? Daughters only?

Enforcement

  • Do women know their rights?
  • Who do women go to first when they have a land related dispute?
  • What is the basic system for resolving disputes?
  • Formal court?
  • Tribal or customary court?
  • Elders?
  • Are women able to access all enforcement institutions?
  • What are the barriers women face in resolving disputes? 
  • Possible barriers include: costs associated with dispute resolution, location and hours of dispute resolution or enforcement bodies, comfort dealing with these systems, social barriers, complexity of paperwork requirements, etc.
  • Where do women usually go when they have a land dispute?  Why?
  • Which dispute resolution actors know women’s rights? Support women’s rights?