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Report, 2018

Gendered land rights and access to land in countries experiencing declining farm size

Andersson Djurfeldt, Agnes; Sircar, Srilata


The following report reviews the literature on land tenure systems from a gender perspective in five countries in sub-Saharan Africa and three countries in South Asia that are experiencing falling farm sizes and rising population pressure on land. The countries in question are Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Nigeria, Madagascar, India, Nepal and Bangladesh. We use data from the FAOs Gender and Land Rights Database and review the academic literature on land tenure systems and land reforms from a gender perspective. There is ample evidence of discrimination against women both in inheritance law as well as everyday practices of ownership, control, and access to land. Even in cases where progressive reforms have been implemented, women’s right to land remains fettered to their relationship with male relatives. Gender norms pertaining to marriage, and social beliefs and values derived from patriarchal mindsets pose structural barriers to women’s landownership. The presence of personal law codes (specific to each religious community in the case of South Asia) and the upholding in practice of customary law in the case of most of the African countries covered by the study, are the key structural barriers to equal inheritance rights and/or land tenure rights for women. However, this is a politically charged issue and cannot be approached from a purely policy-driven perspective. Therefore, we must turn our attention to the other structural barriers, within society and everyday practice.


Africa; gender; farm size; population

Published in

AgriFoSe2030 Report
2018, number: 6
eISBN: 978-91-576-9566-6
Publisher: SLU Global, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Andersson Djurfeldt, Agnes
Lund University
Sircar, Srilata
Lund University

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
Gender Studies

URI (permanent link to this page)