Land and corruption in Sub-Saharan Africa: developing gender-sensitive responses

Filed under - Land

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What’s at stake?

Land is critical for women in Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in rural communities where they contribute substantially to food production and often depend on cash crops for income.

When customary law fails to recognise women as legitimate land owners, men are able to manipulate women’s land rights for their own gain. Women are also often left out of decision-making when it comes to land use and management. This can push them deeper into poverty and further marginalise their status in society, threatening food security for all.

On paper, land reform programmes give women the same land rights as men, but in practice they fail to recognise that women are often less empowered than men to use formal legal processes in many countries.

What we’re doing about it

By giving women a voice in how land is governed and designing solutions to land corruption that are gender-sensitive, women will be more empowered to claim and defend their rights. We are working to make this happen by:

  • Carrying out in-depth research to understand how land corruption issues affect women in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Using our research to innovate practical ways of addressing land corruption as it is experienced by women.
  • Bringing women’s land rights to the fore in land governance projects.
  • Pushing for changes in policy so that land is managed in a more gender-sensitive way.
  • Sharing our knowledge with other civil society partners, governments and donors so they are able to respond more effectively to the needs of women in the land sector.

Who’s involved

So far our Women, Land and Corruption in Africa Project has been led by the following chapters and partners:

We hope to extend this project to other countries in the coming years and are working to ensure all our land programme activities across the region are carried out in gender-sensitive way.

Our approach

  • We are working to legally enable women to register as the sole or joint owner of land, or get legal recognition of their rights to land, so they can be involved in any decision-making about it.
  • Monitoring the land administration process to ensure women are included and heard.
  • Involving potential opponents, such as traditional authorities or male relatives of women farmers, in finding gender-sensitive solutions to land corruption.
  • Using participatory video and citizen journalism to empower women to document their own experiences of land corruption, share it with the world and call for change.

Timeline and results

  • 2014: Our Women, Land and Corruption in Africa project kicks off with desk research and project planning for activities in Ghana, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
  • 2015: We held a workshop in Accra, Ghana, to bring together Sub-Saharan Transparency International chapters and partner organisations to identify the most critical ways women are affected by land corruption.
  • 2015: We brought out a research report on Women, Land and Corruption in Uganda.
  • 2016: We presented our initial research findings at the World Bank Land and Poverty Conference in Washington DC, United States.
  • 2016: We released a study on Women and Access to Land in Cameroon, which found that 70 per cent of women farmers in Mfou region lack land title deeds.
  • 2016: We worked on a participatory video with 10 widowed women in eastern Ghana.
  • 2016: We produced a baseline study and policy brief on Women, Land and Corruption in Ghana.
  • 2016: We researched and documented the plight of a group of women farmers in Zimbabwe who have been forced to trade sex for land rights.
  • 2017: In Madagascar we produced a video on land access challenges faced by women.
  • 2017: Based on the experiences gained during the first phase of our project in Ghana, Uganda and Zimbabwe, we published a practical guide for making work on land and corruption more gender responsive.
  • 2018: We produced a training manual for journalists investigating land and corruption in Africa.

Contact information

Annette Jaitner, Land Programme Lead

Follow us on Twitter @landcorruption

Country / Territory - Cameroon   |   Ghana   |   Madagascar   |   Uganda   |   Zimbabwe   
Region - Sub-Saharan Africa   
Language(s) - English   
Topic - Gender   |   Human rights   |   Land   |   Poverty and development   |   Technology   
Tags - Gender equality   |   Land titles   |   Participatory video   |   citizen journalism   |   Land rights   |   Land registration   |   Gender sensitivity   |   Gender and corruption   |   Gender responsiveness   

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