In Africa, as elsewhere, land rights have remained a bastion of male power and privilege. Since land is a fundamental resource for improving living conditions and economic empowerment, the lack of land rights for women undermines efforts to promote gender equity and equality within a patriarchal society. The minimal transformation of women’s socio-economic position with regards to access and control of land is, in many cases, due to land reform programmes and related processes whose design or implementation is “gender neutral”. In the worst cases, these legal and institutional processes threaten to even further entrench gender inequalities.
This article provides an overview of current strategies to reform access to property in general, and land ownership in particular, from a gendered perspective.