Securing Land Rights for Women
Abstract: This collection of papers on Securing Women's Land Rights presents five articles relating to eastern Africa. Four of these illustrate practical approaches to securing land rights for women in distinct situations: law-making for women's land rights (Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda); land tenure reform in practice (Rwanda); women's rights under pastoral land tenure (Ethiopia); and women's rights in areas of matrilineal-matrilocal land tenure (Malawi). This article serves as an overall introduction to the subject, reviewing past issues and highlighting new ones, and setting out the shape of a positive, pragmatic approach to securing women's land rights in eastern Africa. Five key themes emerge: the role of customary institutions; the continuing central role of legislation as a foundation for changing custom; issues of gender equity and equitability, and underlying goals; the challenges of reform implementation and of growing women's confidence to claim their rights; and the importance of encouraging effective collaboration among all those working in the field of women's land rights. The article calls for a stronger focus on gender equity – on securing equal land rights for both women and men – in order to achieve sustainable positive change in broader social and political relations.