Personal Reflections on Drafting Laws to Improve Women's access to Land: Is there a magic wand?
Abstract: This article presents the author's personal reflections on his extensive experience of drafting land laws in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda over the past 14 years. It highlights key legal issues in efforts to improve women's access to land through the law, and provides a frank discussion of the author's involvement in translating constitutional, policy and legal provisions into detailed common law legislation that can be consistently implemented to achieve the goal of gender equality in land rights. The three cases discussed represent quite different situations: a relatively high degree of legal clarity and progressive policy and government support for gender equality in land rights in Rwanda; a highly politicised context in Tanzania, involving a struggle to even get women's land rights onto the agenda; and a more technically focused process in Uganda of trying to translate detailed pro-women provisions into practice, particularly with regard to mortgages. Common lessons emerge from all three cases, which are drawn together in the article's conclusion and which have wider application to the land reform processes that are now ongoing in other countries across the Eastern African region.