Women’S Land Rights: Customary Rules And Formal Laws In The Pastoral Areas Of Ethiopia – Complementary Or In Conflict? | Land Portal

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Date of publication: 
Janeiro 2022
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ISBN / Resource ID: 
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Copyright (c) 2022 African Journal on Land Policy and Geospatial Sciences

Land in Ethiopia is held by the state and the people; while landholders guaranteed a lifetime ‘holding’ right (any right except sell and mortgage per se). Women have equal rights to men in the formal legal system, despite, in pastoral areas, women’s land rights are highly influenced by religious and customary systems: rights are meaningless unless they are socially recognized and effectively enforced. Studies on women’s land rights comparing between formal and customary land laws are rare. The aim of this paper is to understand what land rights women have under formal and customary legal systems in pastoral areas of Ethiopia, how these are implemented and what their impact is, and to make recommendations for their convergence. It focuses on two pastoral regions of Ethiopia: Afar and Oromia. The research revealed that there is a high disparity between the formal law and what the practice in one hand, and the customary and religious systems, and the formal state system.Afar society is patriarchal: women are still inferior to men in terms of use of and access to land. Customary and religious systems are applicable more than state laws. Women don’t resolve disputes except in certain exceptional circumstances, they involve indirect. They cannot inherit property either from their husband or families through the customary system. Land titling is conducted in the region by considering the rights of women which brings improvements. Women have started to obtain private holdings from the government in villagization areas: accounted for 24% of the total, despite several challenges.In Oromia pastoral areas, women have relatively equal rights: they have their own clear responsibilities according to custom. Transactions of matrimonial properties is not possible without the consent of the wife. In many places, women have their own private land, and they participate directly and indirectly in the management of communal lands. But there is discrimination for women as far as inheritance is concerned.Inheritance of land and dispute settlements are common problems of the two study areas. It is not an easy task to converge the formal and informal systems on women land rights. Replacing the customary system with the formal is not the solution. Legal pluralism may be an option and advantageous.The research recommends for promulgation of pastoral land administration laws acknowledging and incorporating customary and religious laws (one umbrella pastoral ‘code’ that bring together statutory, customary, and religious laws); awareness creation and legal empowerment of societies; certification of private holdings including photographs of both the husband and wife/wives; integration of the customary and religious systems into criminal law; a mobile free legal service; a thorough study to understand the pros and cons of polygamy for women and the society in general; and a process of cultural mapping and monitoring.

Autores e editores

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Abebaw Abebe Belay

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