The Root of Inequality? Customary Tenure and Women’s Rights to Land in West Africa | Land Portal
Contact details: 
Romy Sato;
Language of the event: 

Read the webinar report


Whatch the webinar again:


In much of West Africa, women are considered breadwinners responsible to provide food for the family. However, women do not only own less land but also face manifold obstacles in accessing land through transfers, inheritance, or lease. The tenure security of this group has been threatened by large-scale land deals, state appropriation in the name of the public interest, and the often-discriminating practices of customary tenure systems. There is much evidence that women are disadvantaged by customary law even in cases of existing inclusive statutory laws. At the same time, women tend to be largely underrepresented in decision-making positions on local or national level as a result of patriarchal views, lack of knowledge and confidence, as well as high workloads. The importance of women’s tenure security and its socio-economic benefits have gained increasing awareness and momentum in West Africa over the past decade.


The webinar

This webinar takes place in the frame of the County Insights initiative and marks the launch of Land Portal's new country portfolios for Ghana, Liberia and Nigeria. These portfolios introduce a spectrum of information on the land system in each country, covering fields such as law and regulations, land use trends, investments and acquisitions, and women’s land rights.

The webinar will focus on a topic of common importance to these countries: women's land rights under customary tenure. While marking out tenure security risks for women, the aim here is to highlight new equitable practices of land tenure, comparing positive case examples and challenges to promote measures that are inclusive for women.


The questions

Some of the questions that this webinar will address include:

  • What are key obstacles for women’s access to land and tenure security in West Africa? What role do customary law and practices play?
  • What are the latest developments of women’s land rights in your country?
  • What positive case studies exist about measures that have contributed to improving tenure security for women?
  • In which ways have the VGGT and other guidelines contributed to achieving equal access to land?


The panel



Renee Giovarelli (Senior Attorney and Advisor at Resource Equity) 

Renee Giovarelli
Resource Equity Institute




Anne Hennings (Local Knowledge Engagement Coordinator)
Anne Hennings
Land Portal's
Local Knowledge
for West Africa
Akua O. Britwum, Associate Professor at the University of Cape Coast, Ghana
Akua O. Britwum
Professor at
the University
of Cape Coast
Dr. Oluwakemi Udoh, Convenant University, Ota, Nigeria
Oluwakemi Udoh

Justine N. Uvuza Senior Land Policy Advisor and Gender Landesa, UK
Justine N. Uvuza
Senior Land
Policy Advisor
and Gender
Landesa, UK



  • Renée Giovarelli is a lawyer and expert on women’s and girls’ land and resource rights, with over 20 years of experience working on intra-household and gender issues related to land tenure and customary and legal property rights. She is the co-founder of Resource Equity and has provided extensive training, research and  consulting services on women’s and girls’ land rights for USAID, the World Bank, the European Investment Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and governments around the world.
  • Anne Hennings has worked on land and resource related issues for over 10 years and holds a PhD in Peace and Conflict Studies. She conducted extensive ethnographic fieldwork in Sierra Leone, Cambodia, and Ethiopia with emphasis on contested land deals, community mobilization, gender and post-conflict dynamics. In addition to working for the Land Portal, Anne is a postdoc research fellow at the Peace Academy Rhineland-Palatinate and speaker of the working group “Nature, Resources, Conflicts”.
  • Akua Opokua Britwum is an Associate Professor at the Department of Labour and Human Resource Studies, University of Cape Coast, Ghana. She previously served as the Director of the Centre for Gender Research, Advocacy and Documentation. Her teaching and research cover development related subjects including Gender Issues in Development, Development Philosophy and Theory, as well as women’s labour status in the informal economy.
  • Oluwakemi Udoh is a researcher at the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Covenant University, Nigeria. She earned her doctorate degree in International Relations with a focus on the effectiveness of international conventions on women’s rights in protecting their rights to property in Ogun State, Nigeria. She has published a number of articles on women’s rights to property, examining the forces that affect the actualization of such rights and continues to engage in the advocacy of women’s rights and empowerment in her local community.
  • Justine Uvuza serves as a Senior Land Policy Advisor, Gender at Landesa. She is a lawyer specializing in Law in Development and holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology (Gender and Women Studies). Uvuza has more than two decades of experience in the fields of land rights, gender, women’s rights, social justice, policy development, advocacy, community mobilization, capacity development, and management in the Sub-Saharan African context. She has dedicated her career to ensuring that historically underrepresented groups – particularly women and youths – can access their rights and express their full humanity.


Related content: 

Proportion of countries where the legal framework (including customary law) guarantees women’s equal rights to land ownership and/or control


Last updated on 1 February 2022

This indicator is currently classified as Tier II. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is the main Custodian agency. UN Women and the World Bank are partner agencies.

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