In this paper the authors argue that ownership without independent rights is in the final analysis, no ownership at all and make the case for independent land rights for women. In the case of Muslim women who already enjoy (nominal) rights to own land, they argue for independent rights in order to enable them to be in a position to make decisions on the use, disposal and acquisition of this resource. For non-Muslims without ownership rights, they argue that demands for ownership have to go hand in hand with independent rights on matters of usage and disposal (i.e. control).
This is an educational kit comprising 8 thematic papers, that is complementary to a film about the Lessons Learned from Niger’s Rural Code. The papers are meant to encourage viewers to look further into some of the topics that the film deals with, and provide practical data (facts and figures, diagrams, maps, etc…) about the reality of Niger’s Rural Code. They are a key tool for moderators to lead discussions with the audience and go further into the debate.
The authors argue that the process leading to the Rural Code has produced some important positive results which have contributed to easing conflicted relations between rural producers and strengthening land tenure security, notably amongst the weakest inhabitants. Some challenges to the implementation of the rural have arisen, notably lack of clarity and contradiction between some guiding principles.
In some West African countries, decentralisation and the establishment of local government are opening the way to more representative democratic processes. One hope is that, as a result, women will get more involved in public life. Access to land and natural resources in Mali and Niger is a prerequisite for secure livelihoods for the vast majority of people. Better participation in decision making, therefore, should mean that women are able to improve and secure their access to natural resources (including land) as well as to public services.