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Technical brief "Because Women's Land Rights Matter! How the EU development cooperation can help close the gender gap in land tenure"

The EU Commission remains dedicated to implement the objectives of the Gender Action Plan 2016-2020 and, in September 2017, DEVCO Unit C1 published a guidance note -Because women matter: Designing interventions in food, nutrition and agriculture that allow women to change their lives” -   in order to support EU delegations in gender mainstreaming and guide gender analysis of Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture programmes and projects.

This new brief “Women’s land rights matter!  How EU development cooperation can help close the gender gap in land tenurecomplements the guidance note, deepening the analysis on the importance of promoting women’s land rights as a precondition to empower women and reduce poverty.

The brief particularly provides an overview of the main challenges and opportunities surrounding the promotion of women’s land rights and identifies the following main elements to guide the reflection on this issue:

  1. Secure land rights for women contribute to the realisation of fundamental human rights, improve food and nutrition security, and reduce poverty in rural areas.
  2.  Discriminatory practices hampering women’s full enjoyment of land rights remain widespread: socioeconomic, legal, cultural and behavioural constraints limit women’s ability to claim and protect their land rights.
  3. Global commitment to promoting women’s land rights has been recently renewed, in particular through the Sustainable Development Goals: SDG 1 – elimination of poverty; SDG 2 – food security and adequate nutrition; and SDG 5 – gender equality. Gender-equal land-related goals can be realised only if a gender-transformative approach to promoting women’s land rights is embedded in all FNS&SA projects and/or specific land actions.
  4. The EU is increasingly committed to design and implement gender-responsive land actions and has embedded the promotion of women’s rights, including equal rights to land, in its Gender Action Plan (GAP II) 2016-2020.

The brief stresses that in order to effectively promote gender equality in the enjoyment of land rights, it is fundamental to address the root causes of discrimination against women’s claims and to tackle power unbalances in the access to, use of and control over land. A gender transformative approach seeks not only to improve women’s short-term access to resources, including land, but also to guarantee their equal rights, increasing their voice in decision making at all levels and challenging the wrong perceptions about women’s rights in all its dimensions, from the legal, economic and administrative aspects up to the behavioural factors (women considered by men as “secondary right-holders”).

The EU is progressively engaging in the application of this approach in all its interventions and it is committed to increase women’s land tenure security, mainly by: 

  • promoting gender-balanced land legislation (e.g. in Malawi);
  •  enhancing women’s participation in land decision-making  processes (e.g. in Honduras);
  • improving women’s access to legal services when their  claims are not respected (e.g. Zambia);
  • directly supporting the registration of their rights (e.g. Angola, Namibia and Colombia);
  •  increasing rural women’s voices, reinforcing women’s  organisations and holding governments accountable for their commitments on women’s land rights (e.g. Malawi, Cameroon, Togo, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Ethiopia and Tunisia).

Find more on the EU support to promote women’s land rights in the brief attached below and do not hesitate to leave a comment here if you need additional information on the EU’s engagement to improve the life of rural women and girls.


Giorgia MEI uploaded a new Document 18 May 2018

This Brief provides EU staff with an overview of the main challenges and opportunities surrounding the promotion of women’s land rights.

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Maria Ketting DEVCO-C1
18 May 2018

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