Translating Legal Rights into Tenure Security: Lessons from the New Commercial Pressures on Land in Ghana
- Collection Type:
- Schoneveld, G. C. and German, L.
The community-based study has three purposes: 1. Highlight the multitude of issues and challenges facing African women in relation to land and property. 2. Document the main strategies that grassroots women’s groups are using to help women attain justice, either by working within or influencing customary legal frameworks, or by assisting women to access the court system, in order to develop a cohesive series of strategies for grassroots women-led groups to use in achieving justice in relation to land and property. 3. Provide evidence that can be used to insert grassroots women’s perspectives and practices into the existing development discourse on women’s access to justice in relation to land and property, particularly within the African context.
It finds broadly that the most important components of successful approaches are: community sensitization and training sessions on customary and statutory legal systems; community mapping; local-to-local dialogues with headmen, chiefs, and local leaders; • the use of community paralegals for information, advice, and access to resources for grassroots women; the use of watchdogs to identify and highlight problems in a community; and, • the development of partnerships with key stakeholders. [Threats to Women’s Land Tenure Security and Effectiveness of Interventions - Annotated Bibliography]
Full citation: Duncan, B.A. (2010). “Cocoa, Marriage, Labour, and Land in Ghana: Some Matrilineal and Patrilineal Perspectives.” Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 80 (2), 301–21. - Based on field research conducted between April 2006 and November 2007 in four matrilineal and two patrilineal communities located in the Brong Ahafo, Western and Volta regions, the study sets out important changes taking place within the institutions of marriage, land tenure and conjugal labour relations, within the cocoa production sector. Many scholars have documented systems of land exchange between husbands and wives for services rendered within the context of cocoa farming. This study shows that new and previously undocumented forms of informal conjugal unions may be coming into existence in the context of cocoa production, and these new arrangements provide much less land tenure security for women.
In the matrilineal communities especially, formal marriage arrangements appear to be an exception rather than the prevailing norm. Contract marriages, popular in the western region, are essentially seasonal arrangements made between men and women particularly during the cocoa harvesting season, which lasts for a period of three to six months, after which the relationship is either renewed or terminated. No land is exchanged in a contract marriage. Consensual unions are not as secure as formal marriages, but are a step toward formal marriage. In one case, the Ghanaian court said women in such relationships were entitled to a one-third share of cocoa land which they had assisted their partners to develop. [Threats to Women’s Land Tenure Security and Effectiveness of Interventions - Annotated Bibliography]
Synthesizes findings and best practices from six case studies that assess approaches for community land and ensure both women and men benefit from the improved land tenure security.
One of six case studies informing the synthesis report "Gender and Collectively Held Land: Good Practices and Lessons Learned from Six Global Case Studies."
Full citation: Chigbu, U.E.; Paradza, G.; Dachaga, W. Differentiations in Women’s Land Tenure Experiences: Implications for Women’s Land Access and Tenure Security in Sub-Saharan Africa. Land 2019, 8, 22.