The paradox of gender discrimination in land ownership and women's contribution to poverty reduction in Anglophone Cameroon
Full citation: Fonjong, L., Fombe, L., & Sama-lang, I. (2013). “The paradox of gender discrimination in land ownership and women's contribution to poverty reduction in Anglophone Cameroon.” GeoJournal, 78(3), 575-589. - This study adopted a method of field work involving observations, the use of questionnaires, interviews, and focus group discussions for data collection that was able to capture key issues related to women, culture and land. The sample size of 2,205 participants included 80 % women and 20 % men from all socio-economic, political, demographic and ethnic groups. In addition to this sample, interviews were conducted and focus-group discussions held with key women, human rights NGOs and, traditional and administrative authorities in each of the localities.
The study found that land is an important factor of production for both men and women in predominantly agrarian Cameroon. While the legal framework in Cameroon advocates for equal rights and opportunities to resources, the majority of rural women who are mostly peasant farmers can neither inherit nor own land due to gender discriminatory customary practices. The findings revealed that although women are key players in the struggle against poverty who depend solely on land, they still do not have security of tenure over the land they cultivate. Specifically, land inheritance is one of the areas in which gender discrimination is still prevalent. It is deeply rooted in the socio-cultural practices of both patrilineal and matrilineal societies. In matrilineal communities like Aghen and part of Kom, where inheritance follows the female linage, the sons, and not the daughters of this linage have inheritance rights. Field investigation indicates that men and women are unanimous on the fact that current practices discriminate against women. [Threats to Women’s Land Tenure Security and Effectiveness of Interventions - Annotated Bibliography]