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Women, Wives and Land Rights in Africa: Situating Gender Beyond the Household in the Debate Over Land Policy and Changing Tenure Systems

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  • Ingrid Yngstrom

Abstract

The debate over land reform in Africa is embedded in evolutionary models, in which it is assumed landholding systems are evolving into individualized systems of ownership with greater market integration. This process is seen to be occurring even without state protection of private land rights through titling. Gender as an analytical category is excluded in evolutionary models. Women are accommodated only in their dependent position as the wives of landholders in idealized 'households'. This paper argues that gender relations are central to the organization and transformation of landholding systems. Women have faced different forms of tenure insecurity, both as wives and in their relations with wider kin, as landholding systems have been integrated into wider markets. These cannot be addressed while evolutionary models dominate the policy debate. The paper draws out these arguments from experience of tenure reform in Tanzania and asks how policy-makers might address these issues differently.

Suggested Citation

  • Ingrid Yngstrom, 2002. "Women, Wives and Land Rights in Africa: Situating Gender Beyond the Household in the Debate Over Land Policy and Changing Tenure Systems," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 30(1), pages 21-40.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:oxdevs:v:30:y:2002:i:1:p:21-40
    DOI: 10.1080/136008101200114886
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Joireman, S.F., 2008. "The Mystery of Capital Formation in Sub-Saharan Africa: Women, Property Rights and Customary Law," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(7), pages 1233-1246, July.
    2. Seebens, Holger, 2008. "One size fits all? Female Headed Households, Income Risk, and Access to Resources," 2008 International Congress, August 26-29, 2008, Ghent, Belgium 43609, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    3. Varley, Ann, 2007. "Gender and Property Formalization: Conventional and Alternative Approaches," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(10), pages 1739-1753, October.
    4. Seebens, Holger, 2009. "Child Welfare and Old-Age Security in Female Headed Households in Tanzania," IZA Discussion Papers 3929, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Wisdom Akpalu & Mintewab Bezabih, 2015. "Tenure Insecurity, Climate Variability and Renting out Decisions among Female Small-Holder Farmers in Ethiopia," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(6), pages 1-16, June.
    6. Lambrecht, Isabel Brigitte, 2016. "“As a Husband I Will Love, Lead, and Provide.” Gendered Access to Land in Ghana," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 188-200.
    7. Deere, Carmen Diana & Doss, Cheryl R., 2006. "Gender and the Distribution of Wealth in Developing Countries," WIDER Working Paper Series 115, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    8. Maila Stivens, 2012. "Gender," Chapters,in: A Handbook of Economic Anthropology, Second Edition, chapter 18 Edward Elgar Publishing.

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