Land reforms must benefit women, experts say

09Nov 2019
Daniel Semberya
The Guardian
Land reforms must benefit women, experts say

LAND reforms and programmes should benefit women who form large part of the Tanzanian population, experts have suggested.

They made the suggestion when speaking at the two-day training to journalists focusing on women’s land rights and sustainable investments.

Landesa’s Land Tenure Specialist and Lawyer Godfrey Massay said that it was crucial important for women to own land.

Landesa Rural Development Institute champions and works to secure land rights for millions of the world’s poorest mostly rural women and men to provide opportunity and promote social justice.

He said that women who have secured land among many other benefits, can have higher self-esteem, are better able to participate in local committees and governance structures, and are able to invest in their homes.

Massay further said that securing of land and property rights can enhance women‘s abilities to participate in informal trading and negotiate access to higher income emerging markets in the formal sector.

He said that when women have ownership, access and occupy and have control to land there were various benefits the community around could economically benefit.

Massay mentioned some of those benefits as an increase in productivity, income and expenditure.

Also they become self-reliant by reducing government expenditure on basic needs, contributions to country development through taxes, improved economic activity such as business engagement and bank credits. And cause impacts on population growth as women are more likely to negotiate reproductive rights.

Furthermore, when women have more choice and stronger voice, their social status would be improved, more women will engage in political activities and hence attain their other rights.

He further noted that when women get the right to land, automatically their families’ nutrition, education, and health change positively.

Citing one of the World Bank, World Economic Development report, Massay said that gender equality smart economics, enhanced productivity and improved other development outcomes.

But, “Inequality and sex-based discrimination with regard to land ownership and its effective control, is the single most critical contributor to violations of the economic, social and cultural rights of women among the agrarian economies of most developing countries.”

So, “A gender approach to land rights can enable shifts in gender power relations, and assure that all people, regardless of sex, benefit and are empowered by development policies and practices to improve people’s rights to land.”

However, Massay mentioned some of the barriers to women’s land and resource rights among many as: Cultural or legal inability to acquire land rights through markets, inheritance, transfer, or gift.

Barriers to rights created by intra-household customs (marriage/divorce, bride price/dowry, and polygamy).

Discriminatory laws and policies at the central or local level; poorly drafted regulations and laws governing land and property rights; and lack of knowledge, information, and enforcement.

He mentioned other barriers that hinder women’s rights to collectively held property as: Lack of clear legal rules on who is a member of the community. Customarily married-in women considered a “stranger” in their husbands’ community.

For her part, veteran journalist who is also one of Landesa’s Board Members Eda Sanga while officiating the training said that land is life,  and is everything.

Sanga said “If our well formulated laws, regulations and policies on land ownership are well utilised, women, particularly rural women and the entire community could abundantly benefit.”

However, she said that the challenge is that they were not effectively utilised.

Meanwhile, Sanga has urged journalists to use the knowledge they received to educate the community, especially women on land ownership.

Studies indicate that women with strong property and inheritance rights earned up to 3.8 times more income. And children whose mothers own land devote more of their budget to education.

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