A woman in Haiti harvests a bunch of peanuts. Land rights for women means an empowered family and community, but some current laws and cultural prohibitions are the challenges that women farmers face. Photo by: Alex Proimos / CC BY-NC

Everyone, regardless of gender, has the right to own property. Yet despite the widespread recognition of women’s land rights, very few can exercise them, Devex readers suggest in their comments on our Land Matters campaign.

“Women’s land rights for sure are important and i agree that empowering a woman, you empower the community however it is the laws that we have in our countries that makes it difficult for this to happen,” Jesinta Kunda wrote. “Our governments are signatories to protocols and and agreements at regional and international levels towards empowering women, however nothing much is being done to localize these protocols to address the challenges that women are facing. If a country can administer land without a land policy how possible and effective is that country going to enhance women land rights?”

Having laws in place isn’t always enough, several readers noted. Societal norms present an even bigger problem.

“My skepticism is stuck on the reality that laws and documents can all be neat and tidy, but the gender inequities will still drive the outcomes toward male heirs,” Janet Povero said. “The laws, most likely, won’t be enforced (as we see in girls’ rights to education), and if a woman land owner did push an issue seeking justice, I wonder what the repercussions would be.”

Suci Daniati added: “It cannot be avoided because of the culture that has occurred in the area over many thousands of years ago. It was very difficult to change. The same thing happened in Indonesia’s West Sumatra, Indonesia. But in recent years, it has shifted due to the women of the west Sumatran prefer to marry men from other cultures or other countries and go for a wander.”

What do you think can be done to address these challenges?

Check out our Land Matters campaign for innovative solutions in the areas of food security, economic development, conservation and more, and tell us why #landmatters.

About the author

  • Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.