Poor women in developing countries rely on land as source of livelihood. Increasing pressure on land — brought on by globalisation pressures, increased population and privatisation — undermines women’s land tenure security. The comparison of women’s land access is predominantly measured against that of men, and this has been the basis for formulating policy aimed at increasing women’s land tenure security. However, this dichotomy reduces women to a homogenous group which experiences tenure security in an identical manner, so the dichotomy masks several differences which exist among women.
A focus on the differences among women allows for significant insight to emerge into how women experience tenure access differently, how various policies impact on different women and the specific ways these differences could be used to inform policy formulation and evaluation. Focussing on differentiation among women also illustrates other important factors shaping women’s access to land, normally overlooked when research focuses on differences between men and women.
This paper highlights how differentiation is useful to explain women’s differences in land access and how policy aimed at ensuring women’s tenure security could be more effective.
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This work was carried out as part of a 3-year collaborative project entitled “Securing Women’s Access to Land: Linking Research and Action”, coordinated by the International Land Coalition (ILC), the Makerere Institute for Social Studies (MISR) of Makerere University in Uganda, and the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) of the University of Western Cape in South Africa. This report is part of a wider initiative on Women’s Land Rights. If you would like further information on the initiative and on the collaborating partners, please feel free to contact the International Land Coalition.
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The International Land Coalition (ILC) is a coalition of civil society and intergovernmental organizations promoting secure and equitable access to and control over land for poor women and men thro