Global Resources

Gender & Land – Implications for Sustainable Development A working paper for development practitioners

Publisher: Interdisciplinary Centre for Gender Studies
Publication Date: Dec 2014

Less than 2% of the land available worldwide is owned by women. Why is the issue of land so gendered? What approaches and lessons learned can development professionals utilise to address the issue of gender and land? Data demonstrates a glaring gender gap in land holdings in all regions of the world. This is regardless of the fact that women produce 60% to 80% of food in developing countries. This working paper highlights critical issues concerning gender and land and provides an overview of the international and regional legal and policy context. It also contains an inside view of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) good practices relating to challenging gender equality and land. There is still a large gap between international and regional instruments and policies that guarantee equal rights to land and their successful implementation. Women and men need to know their rights, access to justice, good governance and equal participation in decision-making for women and men need to be enhanced and structural obstacles and root causes of gender inequality need to be tackled. Key recommendations from this paper include working with women at the operational level to empower them in their rights and enable their participation in decision-making processes. Approaches involving the whole community are a crucial element for success by means of increasing awareness of gender equality and transforming thinking around traditional gender roles - community leaders, including religious leaders need to be consulted and guided. National law is often more powerful than international law and a solid analysis of land tenure on the national level, including its gendered nature, is a must for any agriculture and/ or rural development project.