Property Rights

Not Up for Grabs: Protecting women’s land and property rights in Uganda

A new ICRW summary evaluation report released this week details progress made by a group of grassroots ‘paralegals’ who are providing critical legal aid for women at risk of losing their land. ICRW’s Jennifer Abrahamson met with some of the paralegals and their ‘clients’ earlier this month in rural Uganda.

It wasn’t yet noon, but a group of women had already gathered under the shade of a giant Jacaranda tree next to the clinic. Its purple blossoms scattered in the parched, red earth were the only color in a landscape aching for the rainy season to begin. Just a few feet away from the clinic, an unremarkable ceramic monument the shape of a small skateboard ramp baked in the sun. One of the land rights paralegals I met with that day in early March explained that it marked a mass grave – one of many strewn across Uganda’s Luwero District.

HIV-positive widows in Kenya fight for their land rights

The Guardian

When women own land, housing, and livestock, their overall wellbeing improves, their families are healthier, and economies grow stronger. In this blog published in the Guardian, ICRW’s Gina Alvarado writes about efforts to help women affected by HIV reclaim property they were forced to leave in Kenya. 

When women own land, housing, and livestock, their overall wellbeing improves, their families are healthier, and economies grow stronger. In this blog published in the Guardian, ICRW’s Gina Alvarado writes about efforts to help women affected by HIV reclaim property they were forced to leave in Kenya. Read article »

Disowned: Women’s Struggle to Own and Inherit Land in Tanzania

By Lyric Thompson, International Center for Research on Women

Ahead of the World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty, ICRW’s Lyric Thompson blogs about efforts underway in Tanzania to strengthen women’s right to own and inherit land. Denying women this right is not only unjust; it also stands in the way of food security. 

As the World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty kicks off on Mach 24 in Washington DC, I can’t help but think of the many rural – and landless – women of Tanzania. Earlier this month, I returned from the East African country, where the International Center for Research on Women has been supporting a number of local organizations working to secure women’s property rights. This is a complicated proposition in Tanzaniawhere the law of the land – on land – is contradictory.

Securing Women’s Land and Property Rights- A Critical Step to Address HIV, Violence, and Food Security

Securing Women’s Land and Property Rights- A Critical Step to Address HIV, Violence, and Food Security

Open Society Foundations, The Global Initiative, Landesa, Southern Africa Litigation Centre, ActionAid, Huairou Commission, International Center for Research on Women, Women's Inheritance Now, WLSA, Federation of Women Lawyers, UNDP, Women’s Legal Centre, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, IGED Africa, Klein
2014

In many parts of the world, women’s rights to land and property are systematically denied. Laws give women fewer or less secure rights than men, and discriminatory attitudes and practices undermine them. This leaves many women almost entirely dependent on the men in their lives for basic economic survival and vulnerable to violence, poverty, and food insecurity, particularly if widowed, divorced, single, or in marriages not formally recognized.

As land resources are increasingly contested, these problems have worsened, particularly for rural women.Large-scale land acquisitions remove women farmers.Land degradation from desertification and climate change reduces the availability of fertile land for farming.Through all of this, women are often excluded from land negotiations because they lack official land titles.

This brief examines the importance of women’s land and property rights in the contexts of HIV and AIDS, violence against women, and food security. Land and property rights increase women’s autonomy—decreasing their dependence on men and entrapment in abusive relationships, enabling greater control over sexual relations, and improving their ability to produce food for themselves and their families. This brief examines where and how these rights are protected under international human rights standards and offer strategies to help women effectively claim and enforce their rights.

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Learning from a ‘paralegals’ intervention to support women’s property rights in Uganda

Learning from a ‘paralegals’ intervention to support women’s property rights in Uganda

Payal Patel, Zayid Douglas, Kathryn Farley
2014

Restrictions on women’s property rights (WPR) prevent women across the world from achieving their full economic potential. Without comprehensive rights to own, sell or make key decisions about land and other property, women often face difficulty in earning an adequate income and in providing for themselves and their families. On a global scale, women’s limited rights over property hampers progress in economic growth, poverty reduction, and gender equality.

A number of social and economic constraints prevent women in the region from fully claiming their legal rights to property. These include women’s lack of awareness about their legal rights, weak access to funding for legal and dispute resolution services, women’s fear of violence from husbands or other family members as a result of claiming property rights, and a mistrust of local law enforcement and legal institutions.

To address these challenges, over the last two decades there has been a rise in public and NGO-supported community-based legal aid programs.These programs train community members to educate others about existing laws on property rights in order to increase knowledge and change norms related to women’s ownership of property. Referred to as “paralegals”, these legal rights workers also help to mediate disputes related to land and other property.

This brief discusses lessons learned from an evaluation of one such community-based legal aid program in Uganda, carried out by the Uganda Land Alliance (ULA) in collaboration with the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW).

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Building NGO Capacity to Monitor and Evaluate Women’s Property Rights Programming in East Africa

Women’s property rights are critical for achieving poverty reduction and gender equality, yet efforts to secure them are often compromised by many challenges, including a lack of data for identifying programming gaps and progress.  Few organizations that aim to secure women’s property rights collect the necessary information to understand the context in which they are working, how effectively they execute their activities, who their program is reaching and what impacts they are having on participants and the community.

ICRW aims to strengthen women’s property rights in three East African countries through improved capacity of NGOs to systematically monitor, evaluate, and ultimately improve the effectiveness of their property rights programming. Through workshops, site visits and off-site technical assistance, ICRW is helping 11 NGOs in the region develop and implement strong, gender responsive M&E systems for collecting and using information in order to track activities, monitor progress, and enhance their programs. Our NGO partners consist of three in Kenya, three in Uganda and five in Tanzania.  

Duration: 
2011 - 2014
Location(s): 
Uganda
Location(s): 
Kenya
Location(s): 
Tanzania

The Right to Land

What new guidelines could mean for women's land rights

A new set of global guidelines hold promise for women seeking the right to own and access land. In the final installment of our Rural Impressions blog series, ICRW's Krista Jacobs reflects on what the guidelines could mean for women farmers in Uganda.

A new set of global guidelines hold promise for women seeking the right to own and access land. In the final installment of our Rural Impressions blog series, ICRW's Krista Jacobs reflects on what the guidelines could mean for women farmers in Uganda.

Advancing Women's Asset Rights

Study Shows Gender Norms Heavily Influence Women’s Asset Ownership
Tue, 06/28/2011

An innovative new survey reveals that women’s right to own property and assets is as much about power dynamics between women and men as legal rights.

Women’s right to own property and assetsWomen’s right to own property and assets is as much about power dynamics between women and men as legal rights, according to new findings released by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). The results emerge from the Gender, Land and Asset Survey or GLAS, an innovative study that aims to understand the current state of women’s asset ownership and control.

The survey, piloted by ICRW and its partners, University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa and Associates Research Uganda Ltd., is one of the first to undertake a quantitative assessment of men’s and women’s rights over a range of assets from land and housing to material goods such as mobile phones and farming tools. ICRW’s Krista Jacobs and Meredith Saggers shared the results at a seminar held June 23 in Washington, D.C. (see the presentation).

The findings are an important addition to the international development field, where asset and property rights for women are increasingly seen as key to economic progress. However, women continue to own just a fraction of land worldwide, and despite laws that protect their rights to property, men and women often are unaware of them. Meanwhile, prevailing social norms reinforce attitudes that discourage women from owning land or other assets.

ICRW aimed to gain a better understanding of the issue through GLAS as well as another property rights-related project in Uganda: A community-based program in the rural Luwero District that educated people on existing laws and helped mediate property disputes. ICRW and its local partners, Uganda Land Alliance (ULA) and Centre for Basic Research, trained rights workers and their communities on women’s legal rights to property and promoted discussion around how these rights were or were not realized. The nine-month pilot showed modest achievements.

As for GLAS, researchers conducted the survey in three rural and urban sites in Uganda and South Africa, to provide a multidimensional look at the gap between men’s and women’s asset ownership. The findings confirmed that men own more than women and also control more decisions about assets. More so, women’s ability to own assets is strongly influenced by their male partners.

Among married or cohabiting couples, responses about joint ownership revealed differing perceptions between men and women. For example, in rural Uganda, 19 percent of women said they jointly owned a house with the male head of household, while only 3 percent of men reported shared ownership.

When female respondents were divided into two groups, female-headed households and women in male-headed households, results showed that asset ownership among women heads was comparable to their male counterparts. In rural South Africa, 86 percent of men and 84 percent of women who lead households owned a home. In contrast, only 22 percent of women in male-headed households reported such ownership. Researchers cautioned that although women who head households appeared to own assets, the survey sample may have only captured more resilient women. Still, the findings point to the need for further understanding on how gender norms affect women’s ability to own and make decisions about various assets.

“Women’s asset rights are largely shaped by their position in the household and by their relationships,” said Jacobs, who led the research. “These power structures should be top of mind when shaping policies and programs about land, economic development and women’s empowerment.”

The Gender, Asset and Land Survey instrument and manual will be available online in late July 2011. Join our e-newsletter to receive regular updates from ICRW.

Gender, Land and Asset Survey Uganda

Gender, Land and Asset Survey Uganda
Gender Differences in Asset Rights in Central Uganda

Aslihan Kes, Krista Jacobs, Sophie Namy
2011

The Gender, Land and Asset Survey (GLAS) is one of the first studies to undertake a quantitative and gendered assessment of men’s and women’s rights over assets – including ownership, documentation and degree of control over use, transfer and transactions – and the implications thereof. GLAS, developed and piloted by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and Associates Research Uganda Limited and University of KwaZulu-Natal, is a survey methodology for collecting and analyzing individual- and household-level quantitative data on women’s rights over assets with the goal of providing more in-depth detail on determinants of women’s asset rights.

This study points to significant gender gaps with respect to women’s asset ownership in Uganda. Further, it sheds light on more detailed aspects of asset ownership, looking beyond land to a wider array of assets, and not just asset ownership but also control and decision-making authority over assets. The results also point to significant nuances in the nature of the gender asset gap and its drivers.

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How Do Community-based Legal Programs Work

How Do Community-based Legal Programs Work
Understanding the Process and Benefits of a Pilot Program to Advance Women’s Property Rights in Uganda

Krista Jacobs, Meredith Saggers, Sophie Namy
2011

Women’s property rights, especially access to land, are increasingly recognized as critical to achieving poverty reduction and gender equality. Research shows that community-based legal aid programs are a viable approach to improving legal knowledge and women’s access to legal resources to address property issues. From 2009-2010, the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and the Uganda Land Alliance (ULA) implemented and evaluated a pilot program to strengthen women’s property rights.

This report describes the pilot program’s implementation, outcomes and lessons. It details the program design, methodologies for monitoring and evaluation, and the context in which the program was implemented. Findings include a discussion of challenges encountered by the rights workers and overall program achievements. And recommendations for community rights work as an approach to promoting women’s property rights also are included.

(1.25 MB)

We encourage the use and dissemination of our publications for non-commercial, educational purposes. Portions may be reproduced with acknowledgment to the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). For questions, please contact publications@icrw.org; or (202) 797-0007.

Terms and Conditions »

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