Women and land rights reform in Nigeria
Land rights are usually conceived of as the rights to use, enjoy and exploit land. Women’s land rights are fragile and transient, being dependent upon age and marital status, whether they had children and their sexual conduct. In spite of the Nigerian Land Use Act (LUA) of 1978, which restructured the property rights system in the country from mixed private property rights system in a collectivist framework, concerns about women’s land rights persist. Thus the impact of the inequality in land rights has aggravated women’s socio-economic status, increased the number of women engaging in sex work, allowed for sexual harassment and violence against women and contributed towards marital instability, separation and divorce. This paper demonstrates that gender is central to understanding organization and transformation of landholding in Nigeria, shaping women’s differential experience of tenure insecurity not only as wives, but also as sisters and daughters and as divorced or widowed head of households. It is also prima facie, argued that in the context of globalization occasioning greater market integration, women could contest claims made on their land, but their ability to negotiate access to land needs to be supported and harnessed into land policies.