“Women, wives and land rights in Africa: situating gender beyond the household in the debate over land policy and changing tenure systems”

The debate over land reform in Africa is embedded in evolutionary models, in which it is assumed landholding systems are evolving into individualized systems of ownership with greater market integration. This process is seen to be occurring even without state protection of private land rights through titling. Gender as an analytical category is excluded in evolutionary models. Women are accommodates only in their dependent positions as the wives of landholders in idealized ‘households’. This paper argues that gender relations are central to the organization and transformation of landholding systems. Women have faced different forms of tenure insecurity, both as wives and in their relations with wider kin, as landholding systems have been integrated into wider markets. These cannot be addressed while evolutionary models dominate the policy debate. The paper draws out these from the experience of tenure reforms in Tanzania and asks how policy-makers might address these issues differently.
Yngstrom, Ingrid
Source publication: 
Oxford Development Studies 30(1): 21-40