This article focuses on land reform initiatives undertaken in sub-Saharan African countries since the late 1980s. Section 1 sheds light on the changes in land tenure during the economic liberalization of the region. Section 2 briefly examines the gender-blind "mainstream" theoretical debates on land, and gender-sensitive studies on land issues. Section 3 offers insights on land issues in Africa from a gender perspective.
Land is a vital resource for rural livelihoods. Establishing and clarifying land rights through formalisation has become a key issue in development policies that aim to promote more productive uses of land. This report looks at some land reform initiatives from a gendered human rights perspective. The human rights-based approach (HRBA) has a direct bearing on international and national land reform policies, facilitating gender equality through elimination of discrimination against women. The overall aim of this report is to make a contribution to the operationalisation of the HRBA.
As mentioned in the introduction of the paper, “a primary focus of this paper will be an examination of how women’s rights to land are changing and evolving. However, descriptions of the nature of women's rights – how they are obtained, whether they are secure or insecure, exclusive or inclusive – do not give a full picture of how women are exercising their rights. For example, women may gain rights through marriage, but if few women are marrying, then these rights are meaningless.
As stated in the Abstract, “increasing commercialization, population growth and concurrent increases in land value have affected women's land rights in Africa. Most of the literature concentrates on how these changes have led to an erosion of women's rights. This paper examines some of the processes by which women's rights to land are diminishing. First, we examine cases where rights previously utilized have become less important; that is, the incidence of exercising rights has decreased.
As stated in the Abstract, “because food insecurity is primarily a problem of low household incomes and poverty, and not just inadequate food production, projects and programs for food insecure African farmers which aim at increasing production of subsistence crops may be ineffective. Instead, government should look for ways to improve returns to farmers' resources in a broader context, which may include expanded opportunities for non-farm microenterprises and agricultural labor. This has been the conventional wisdom since the writings of Amartya Sen.
This article looks at land tenure systems as well as changes in traditional marriage institutions and social security in Senegal and Burkina Faso and argues that it is crucial that women’s social security and bargaining power within the traditional institutions be preserved while introducing new institutional arrangements for land tenure.
The focus of the workshop, and of this report, is on the policy and legislative challenges raised by the commons in an era where many vocal actors see privatisation as the only way forward. Such challenges are examined at different levels: local (local agreements for the shared management of natural resources), national (government policies, legislation), regional (protocols for the management of transboundary resources; treaties on cross-border transhumance) and international (the Convention on Bio-Diversity).
Across rural Africa, land legislation struggles to be properly implemented, and most resource users gain access to land on the basis of local land tenure systems. There is growing recognition that land laws must build on local practice. In recent years, several African countries have adopted legislation that strengthens protection for local land rights. This raises the need to understand what is happening to land tenure systems on the ground.
Land policies in Africa have often overlooked the interests of certain social groups. In some areas, traditional access and ownership rights for women, migrants and pastoralists have been ignored or reduced. The rise of HIV/AIDS in the region has created new social groups who are vulnerable to discrimination by land policies. As new policies are formed in the region, it is important to consider why these groups have been excluded. This will help to ensure that future policies represent these groups more fairly.