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How can we strengthen women’s land rights?

Practical ideas for helping women to gain rights to land and natural resources

Godfrey Massay and Beth Roberts 2018

Woman in a field. She is part a community project that works to strengthen land rights of rural communities
A community in rural Honduras.

From: Land rights – Footsteps 105

Why land rights are important and what we can do to protect them

Though most rural women depend on land for survival, most lack secure tenure. Secure land rights can help lift rural women out of poverty, with their families and communities. Development workers can help women gain rights to land and natural resources using these approaches: 

  • Use human rights and sustainable development standards. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include clear statements about women’s land rights. Governments are committed to these principles, and development workers can use them to advocate for better laws, policy and practice. 
  • Make strategic partnerships. Global, regional, national and local movements for women’s land rights are gaining momentum. Development practitioners can help sustain and build these efforts. 
  • Work together with communities. Development workers and paralegals can support communities to put in place solutions such as legal aid to strengthen women’s land rights. 
  • Work with private sector companies. Companies have begun to see a link between secure tenure and improved agricultural productivity. Development workers can advocate for women’s inclusion as good business and good practice.  
  • Encourage governments to collect data. The SDGs present a key opportunity: we lack data on women’s land use and ownership from around the world. Without it, we cannot create effective solutions for stronger women’s land rights. 

For a longer version of this article, visit www.tearfund.org/womenandland 


  Godfrey Massay and Beth Roberts

Godfrey Massay is the Advocacy Manager, Tanzania, and Beth Roberts is a lawyer and Land Tenure and Gender Specialist for Landesa, an international land rights organisation.

Web: www.landesa.org Email: info@landesa.org

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