For the past few decades, efforts to strengthen women’s land rights in many sub-Saharan African countries have primarily focused on a single approach: systematic registration through individual/joint certification or titling. While registration — individually or with a spouse — may support tenure security in specific contexts, the sheer complexity of land governance practices and tenure arrangements across the continent (both formal and customary) often render an emphasis on systematic titling inadequate. We look at why the dominant approach isn’t necessarily delivering change for women, reviewing the multifaceted realities encompassed by the generic term ‘women’s land rights’. We suggest that governments and development actors adopt context-specific complementary strategies, able to react to local complexity, and deliver effective sustainable support for women seeking to secure land in sub-Saharan Africa.
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