Women’s Land Rights: Driving Empowerment, Equality, and Opportunity Highly Ranked

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Project Summary

Landesa believes all women should have equal rights to the land on which they depend for their livelihoods. Yet today, more than half a billion women lack these key rights. They are denied the same rights as men to access, use, inherit, control, and own land, leaving them marginalized, their children vulnerable, and their development hindered.When women hold secure land rights, powerful transformation occurs. They invest to increase land productivity, creating healthier, more educated families. They are better stewards of land and more resilient when disaster strikes. Land security gives women and girls power and voice in their households and communities.Landesa will raise the profile of women’s land rights on the global agenda and lead the Stand For Her Land global campaign; nurture a network of women’s land rights champions; and expand our fundamental work to strengthen women’s land and inheritance rights for 100 million women.

Problem Statement

Today, more than one billion rural men and women remain trapped in poverty. Breaking this trap is not simple, but it may be impossible without secure rights to a crucial asset—land. For rural women, land provides a home, fields to feed their family and grow food for markets, and critical natural resources they need to survive. But these women face crippling barriers on at least two fronts: weak legal frameworks make it difficult or improbable to claim land rights, and pervasive discrimination makes it nearly impossible to put legal rights that do exist into use. As a result, women are effectively relegated to second-class citizen status. Because they are not recognized as landowners, women are unable to access government services like agricultural extension or credit. They are regularly thrown off land by governments, family members, and elites who want access to and control over this increasingly scarce and increasingly valuable asset. This widespread vulnerability places women, their children, and their communities at risk.Change is possible. Governments can achieve critical Sustainable Development Goal targets (SDGs 1, 2, and 5 especially) by improving legal frameworks, building awareness of and support for rights, and strengthening enforcement. Recognizing and respecting women’s land rights will provide a stronger foundation for combatting climate change, boosting agricultural productivity, improving health and nutrition, increasing educational outcomes, and promoting sustainable economic growth. Recognizing and respecting women’s land rights—in law and in practice—will empower millions of women and create more prosperous, safe, and productive societies.

Solution Overview

Our solution seeks broad, systemic change by empowering rural women with meaningful rights. First, Landesa will raise the profile of women’s land rights on the global agenda. Landesa will build awareness and connect land rights to key global movements. We will build coalitions that bridge women’s rights, human rights, and climate action and lead Stand For Her Land, a global women’s land rights campaign to drive this interconnected agenda.Second, Landesa will nurture a network of women’s land rights champions. Landesa will support and strengthen cross-cultural networks and information sharing by expanding our Women’s Land Rights Network. We will measure progress on the Sustainable Development Goals using gender-specific data and educate others to adopt similar standards. Landesa will expand work with corporations to respect and protect women’s land rights in their supply chains.Third, Landesa will expand our fundamental work to strengthen women’s land rights. We will design country interventions to strengthen women’s land and inheritance rights, encourage positive social behavior change, build capacity of women to exercise rights, and support governments to implement these rights, including updating and digitizing land records to include women’s names (India), registering women as land owners (Myanmar), identifying innovative ways to recognize women as equal members of rural collectives (China), and building civil society’s capacity to promote women’s land rights (Liberia and Tanzania). Finally, Landesa will conduct rigorous research to validate the impact of activities to strengthen women’s land rights and to clarify how these efforts support other critical global development issues.

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Project Funders

  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 2008 - 2018
  • Ford Foundation 2012 - Ongoing
  • Wellspring Philanthropic Fund 2009 - Ongoing

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