Sharing Best Practices and Lessons Learned for Supporting Women’s Land Rights: A Debate on the Gender Evaluation Criteria (GEC) | Land Portal

The Gender Evaluation Criteria (GEC): Achieving Women’s Land Rights by Any Means Necessary

From 25 January to 5 February, 2016

Since 2007, the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN) partners have been working on the development, piloting, training of trainers and dissemination of the Gender Evaluation Criteria among a wide range of stakeholders at global and country level. The GLTN Secretariat worked in particular with the Huairou Commission (HC), the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG), and the University of East London (UEL) to develop the GEC as one of the flagship land tools to check whether land tools are gender responsive, and to show how they can be adapted to integrate various dimensions of gender issues. They are a flexible framework comprised of 6 criteria and 22 evaluation questions with possible indicators that can be adapted to a wide range of different situations.

Several grassroots women’s organizations, members of the Huairou Commission, tested the GEC during in its initial phase in Brazil (Espaço Feminista), Ghana (Grassroots Sisterhood Foundation) and Nepal (Lumanti). These tests focused on large-scale land tools: municipal master plans, land reform commissions and land administration systems. In the case of Brazil, the application of the tool ensures inclusivity in the design, implementation and evaluation of programs. A number of community leaders working on land and property rights, researchers, land professionals and representatives of the government’s land institutions have been trained in designing and evaluating land tools with a gender analysis to realize and to recognize inequity and/ or inclusion issues in land policies and land regulations, and to develop mitigation and affirmative action approaches where necessary. Furthermore, the Uganda Land Alliance implemented the second phase of pilots aggregating the capacity development of 10 districts, rural and urban, across Uganda. The ILC has primarily facilitated capacity-strengthening on the use of the Gender Evaluation Criteria (GEC) since 2012 through a series of Training of Trainers. The International Land Coalition (ILC) has also supported its members in Africa, Asia and Latin America to use the use the GEC tool for a variety of purposes, with  members in Togo, Zimbabwe,  and Indonesia carrying out GEC evaluations as part of their country-level work.

Clearly, the usefulness of the GEC has been demonstrated as a method of data collection, managing knowledge, producing tangible and rigorous evaluations and engaging with multiple stakeholders to discuss and validate evidence-based information. The GEC has become a mature tool that has been embraced by grassroots groups to step up and progress in their decision making processes. While it is designed for use by many land stakeholders, there is still a need to engage better with more governments and professional groups to champion the use of the GEC in various contexts. In the range of country experiences, the GEC has shown breadth and versatility in both rural and urban sectors. However, the GEC needs improvement in terms of further simplifying the tool for wider adoption by grassroots organizations.

In this regard, the specific objectives of the discussion are:

  • Gathering lessons and best practices on the usage of the GEC.
  • Identifying the positive and negative aspects, the challenges faces and positive outcomes of tools like GEC.
  • Identifying entry points for the adaptation and revision of the tool for up-scaling
  • Comparing this tool to similar gender tools used by other communities.
  • Addressing the main characteristics of a tool aimed at promoting women’s land rights.
  • Bringing together stakeholders in the land governance community and creating possibilities for synergy.


We invite Land Portal users to answer one or more of the following questions:

  • Why did you decide to use GEC to promote women’s land rights in your community? Was it successful and why? What challenges did you face in using this tool? What were the positive and negative outcomes? Please share a personal story of your experiences


  • What other tools have you used to promote women’s land rights? What were the positive and negative outcomes of these tools? Have you combined different tools in the same project or activity? If so please share a story about this experience.
  • If you have used GEC and other tools to promote women’s land rights could you make a comparison between these different tools in terms of replicability, effectiveness, and issues that you can tackle using the different tools and different results and challenges? –
  • How can we bring women’s land rights to the next level? What is the role of evaluation tools in doing this?
  • If you have not used the GEC before, based on the experiences shared through this online discussion, do you think your activities would benefit of its use? If so how? Would you be interested in learning more about GEC and other tools to promote WLRs?
  • If you are aware of other effective tools to promote women’s land rights that have not been mentioned in this discussion (and you used them) please share your experience.

How Can I Participate?

You can type your comment below and answer one or more of the suggested questions in English, French, or Spanish. If you have any questions feel free to contact us at

The discussion is being held simultaneously on the OECD’s Wikigender platform and in partnership with the FSN-Forum.

The discussion will be facilitated by the International Land Coalition’s gender team.

Results of the discussion will be analyzed and transformed into a report that will be distributed widely among land governance stakeholders.



The Global Land Tool Network (GLTN) has moved into a deeper and expanded space when it comes to tool development and implementation.  We are now focusing actions at county level, where our tools will have to be tested, implemented and improved on the ground, contributing to positive changes in the lives of men and women in regard to securing land tenure.   This emphasis on change also fits very well with the evolution of the Gender Evaluation Criteria (GEC).  This is a flagship tool of the GLTN, one that has fully matured and known in more than 40 countries around the world.    The GEC  is a practical instrument to objectively assess whether land interventions known as land tools, such as land legislation, and the institutional and regulatory framework associated with national land laws, but also customary laws and practices, address gender concerns.

GLTN Phase II seeks to increase the level of responsibility held by partners. Recognising that there may need to be capacity built to do this a capacity development strategy is now in place.   

What does this means for tools such as the GEC?  The potential for it to evolve both in content as well as process needs to be explored.   Accordingly a GEC program of work that seeks to identify this potential and is predicated upon working with partners.

Merely focusing on training events is rarely adequate and that capacity development response requires a shift toward more effective learning methods.  This means collaborating with partners including raising their awareness of the new thinking and encouraging them to take on new responsibilities.

 It is important to make all partners aware of where and how they have been involved in the past development of the GEC, and what can be done differently in the future to enhance, capture and extend the value and impact of that work.    The  cycle of the GEC  development and implementation is now complete, and it is time to harvest the fruits of the collective labour done by many GLTN partners at all levels. 

I would like to thank the Land Portal for hosting this e-learning platform, and for the pioneering work of the Huairou Commission, University of East London, Federation of International Surveyors, International Land Coalition and many others who have developed and used the GEC in their work.

May we continue our learning together!


Oumar Sylla, GLTN Secretariat Head

Thanks Oumar

Thanks to the Land Portal for sucha  great discussion. My contribution after using the GEC is that, since it is flexible, there seems to be moving of many indicators in highly partriachal settings and it ends up losing its value as it does not have some fixed indicators that should not be removed. We should probably consider having fixed ones that can apply in all contexts but the others to fit different contexts. 

Welcome all- this on-line discussion on the use of Gender Evaluation Criteria (GEC) and other tools to promote women's land rights and gender justice.

With this discussion we want to facilitate the sharing of good practices among organisations who used the GEC tool, but also to spread its use among others - and buold bridges between organisations and individuals dedicated to the same goal of securing women's land rights.

We have thought of some questions we consider kmportant to address, but these are meant to guide, not limit - any experience you want to share or indeed, additional questions you want to ask others are very much welcome!

As facilitators, we will summarise what is posted here and in a paralell conversation on wikigender (, but will also share reading materials, blogs and other useful resources during the discussion.

We are looking forward to a vibrant discussion! 

Sabine and Elisabetta (ILC- Women's Land Rights Initiative)


Here is the GEC Matrix of 22 evaluation questions to tell us whether a tool is responsive to both women and men for your reference during the discussion:

First, I would like to express gratitude to the Land Portal for hosting the e-debate on the Gender Evaluation Criteria (GEC).   

This flagship tool developed by key partners and the Secretariat of the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN), has been widely used and adapted by many grassroots organizations around the globe.  To date, more than 40 countries have been exposed to the GEC, with varying degrees of success in terms of impacting lives of men and women as they continue to secure their tenure rights.

It has been a great honour to shepherd this tool to where it is now, particularly in the roll-out stage to country and community partners in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean.  The wealth of the tool is now in the hands of the community of practitioners and experts around the world, supported by a strong cluster of global organizations that have partnered collaboratively among themselves to carry out the work to completion.

Land tools should not just benefit the poor; the must also improve the situation of women.   To make sure that land tools do not suffer from gender-blindness, GLTN has developed a set of gender evaluation criteria that can be used to check whether land tools incorporate gender issues, and to point to actions on how they could be improved.  The GEC has proven that it can be adapted to a wide range of different situations, could be easily scaled, and produce results in securing tenure rights for women and men.   Stories on how the GEC was used in Brazil, Ghana, Uganda, Nepal, Togo and the Philippines are just a few, which demonstrate the transformative power of the tool. 

This e-debate on the GEC is a platform to engage ;  not only to share experiences and lessons among  gender and land practitioners,  scholars and the public but to continue deliberating on the  gaps, issues and challenges that we still need to address collectively to ensure a more gender equitable land sector.

The story is not done, the struggle continues.  

Lowie Rosales-Kawasaki

Gender Focal Point

Global Land Tool Network Secretariat

The Gender Evaluation Criteria (GEC) have been used during the refresher course, Modernization of Land Administration Systems in Sub Saharan Africa (MODALS) in Addis Ababa in 2013. Women and Land Administration was one of the topics of this refresher course for our alumni and there was one exercise on gender responsiveness. Participants of this course where professionals from land administration organizations, land offices, surveying companies, Ministries, NGO’s in the land sector and academia, with quite some years of practical experiences.

By this exercise we aimed to gain an understanding of the most important criteria to assess the gender responsiveness in land administration. For this purpose we used the GLTN’s Gender Evaluation Framework and applied it to the participant’s professional work. It was intended to give an answer to the following question: how responsive is your work to both women and men’s needs in land and land information?

By applying the Gender Evaluation Criteria to our own organizations, we and the participants became aware how gender responsive were there organizations. The results of the assessment were really surprising!

Liza Groenendijk

Course Coordinator Land Administration

Chair FIG Commission 2

Faculty of Geo-information Science and Earth Observation (ITC)

University of Twente.

The Netherlands

Hi Liza, Can you please share the most important results of the assessment and why they were surprising? I am really curious!


Patricia Chaves

Applying the GEC to participants' organisations (including ourselves) brought about a lot of discussion. Some of the participants, in this case women with surveying background, told that women are not allowed/not accepted in their professional organisations because they are women (and the work of surveying is too demanding...). So they had to join private bussines or start a company of their own. So this means that surveying professionals (at least in this case) are not really Gender Responsive themselves, let alone if they are sensitive to women land rights in their day to day work.

Here is one example of how the GEC have been used in Brazil to help the people of Ponte do Maduro. Stay tuned for a contribution from Patricia Chaves on how the GEC is changing the lives of women in the communities she works in.

Patrica, so nice to see you and the women you work with. It stimulates to continue putting women land rights on the curriculum of our academic programs. The video brings the women right into the classroom. So important.


Hi Liza, In fact that's an old video. What is more stimulating is that we did get to finish that process and the land titles were handled to residents and the women had the same right as men to own the land. Moreover, by applying the GEC we understood the importance of a gender analysis in all phases and stages. It is not just the end result that tells you what happened, but the trajectory and how gender blindness can be hidden during the process.

The use of the GEC in a training for professionals in the land sector raised a lot of awareness how we, professionals and academics, really think about gender. It brought the issue of women land rights close to ourselves, to what we normally do and how we as professionals normally (or tacitly) behave.

'Land is a man's issue' in the context of some African country participants. If the surveying professionals are dominantly men, of course nothing will change; they will not 'see' a problem. So the GEC showed us the importance of increasing the number of female students in the training and education in surveying and land administration domains.   

Very interesting. Thanks for sharing

Hello everyone

This discussion looks very interesting. It seems clear that the GEC work equally well when it comes to assess gender responsiveness of organisations and programs and when they are used as advocacy tools.

Furthermore they are useful both in academia, among the practitioners and within the communities.

In the French page of this discussion (let’s have a look for those who read French: just click “fr” on the top right of the page) Fréderic Djinadja,from ADHD, inTogo, shares an interesting perspective on the relevance of the GEC.

He focuses on the impact of customary rights on land tenure security for women (in terms of inheritance and of property rights, both often violated) , as well as on discriminatory aspects of formal state law. The GEC have been useful for Frederic’s organisation  and its’ partners to achieve an assessment of the recently revised -2012- (on the basis of CEDAW recommendations) Code des Personnes et de la Famille (CPF).

What Fréderic doesn’t mention, and I am happy to add, is that such an assessment had some actual effects, including a further change in the Family Code which makes women “heads of family” as well.

See, among others, this article on Togolese media:

However, as Fréderic underlines a lot remains to be done, including increasing the number of women in decision and policymaking position.

Any comment? Any suggestion?

Hi everyone,

while waiting for further comments I would like to share with you  (especially for those who were not in Lukenya last year) this link to a blogpost.

This is about a learning exchange where many of the experts of GEC community gathered to discuss the scaling-up of the tool. 

It could be an interesting reading for this evening....looking forward more posts and comments tomorrow!





ANGOC has not yet used the GEC tool. However, ANGOC and Land Watch Asia partners conducted scoping studies on women's access to land in 7 countries. Using these studies, ANGOC developed an issue brief on women's access to land. Now am not sure if the issue brief can be provided as reference or input in the discussion.

See attached links:

Hope these may be useful in the discussion.




Dear all,

This discussion is a platform to engage! We hope that many of you will still do so in the remaining time.

So far, we have heard from Liza from the University of Twente, where they used the GEC as part of the curriculum for a refresher course on the modernisation of land administration systems in Sub-Saharan Africa (MODALS). The GEC was used as part of an exercise of participants assessing how gender-responsive they are in their own work, helping to raise the (self-)awareness of both the professional being trained and the academics carrying out the training. In particular, a lot of discussion was generated on the lack of women professionals in surveying and land administration,  the hurdles women face to access the profession and what can be done to increase the number of female students in these areas.

Providing a completely different perspective, a video documenting the collective action of the women of Ponte Maduro, an informal settlement in Recife, Brazil, showed how Espaço Feminista, member of the Huairou Commission, supported grassroots women to demand the regularisation of their informal settlements. Ponte Maduro is a success story, as the women and men in the community have since received their land titles, and we will hear more about it from Patricia in the coming days.

Another use of the GEC was made by ADHD in Togo, an NGO promoting human development that used the GEC to assess the impact of statutory laws and customary rights on women's tenure security by analysing the country's family code. By engaging with diverse stakeholders, including from government, ADHD used the GEC as an advocacy tool. Significant changes to the family code have since been made, for instance, allowing women to be considered 'head of household'. ADHD has also used the GEC to assess the draft land law, training a wide range of stakeholders involved in policy dialogue on land issues on the use of the GEC tool. Frédéric will tell us more about this experience also (see the French page of the discussion).

Thank you also to Elisabetta and Don for sharing additional information relevant to this discussion.

Three key points seem to emerge from the contributions so far:

1)    this tool is flexible enough to assess all sorts of laws and policies, not limited to the land sector;

2)    the usefulness of the GEC to not just evaluate laws, but also the gender-sensitivity of organisations (and individuals);

3)    the process of gender analysis started by using this tool is as important as the end result of the evaluation.

I'm looking forward to hearing much, much more!


As you saw in the video about Ponte do Maduro land regularization (The Promised Land), what Espaço Feminista (Brazil) did in applying the GEC in the second phase (the first phase was just a pilot, as described above) was a bit different. We used the matrix and applied 5 of the 6 criteria as a reference or a framework to guide the process of policy implementation in order to ensure equal rights to land between men and women. Although equal rights are ensured in our 1988 Brazilian Constitution and in most policies, in practice or when implemented the gender, racial equality is not what prevails. Gender bias and blindness is entrenched in our norms and embedded in our institutions.

Applying the GEC during that regularization process (Ponte do Maduro, Brazil) offered an opportunity to understand that and also to experience gender equality as a result of women’s empowerment.

That was our challenge, but also our opportunity. We started digging and trying to understand what was gender really? If we understand the construct of gender as a power relation between men and women, and how it is related to culture in the establishment of roles and attributes between men and women. The social organization, the sexual division of labor and the notion of men's superiority and women's submission, the idea that for women, it is the private space, the home, and for men the public spaces and the power. The idea that policies and politics are for men, not for women.

So, we had to build a collective understanding about gender inequality and the matrix helped us to understand that inequality as a process and the different dimensions in which it occurs. It was really a participatory process and more than that, it was a partnership building in which we learnt from each other and engage in a policy change collectively. We organized session, we called people from different government agencies, lawyers, researchers and academics and we said this is the chance we have to go further, and to bring women's land rights to the next level - the level of implementation. Learning how to do a process, but really doing what it takes to break the inequality, which is achieved through women's empowerment. We had the opportunity to enhance equality in that community by giving grassroots women on informal settlements the same opportunities of men to be heard and considered in each phase of the process, and in the end to own the land through the regularization process. The regularization recognized the right that the community of 9,000 households had to the land that they effectively built (the area was just a mangrove 50 years ago) and lived for decades.

Equity between men and women can only be achieved through a transformation in women's access to assets and to power.

We reaffirmed what Professor Carmen Diana Deere said about equity and equality. She said that equity between men and women can only be achieved through a transformation in women's access to assets and to power. In our case, the asset was land, and the power to influence in the policy implementation and therefore influencing in the result. She also emphasized the need to use women's empowerment as an objective to be pursued in order to achieve gender equity. We understood that gender equity is the result of women's empowerment, and it is this empowerment that transforms gender relations.

If you ask me what were the challenges that we had in this 4-year process, the first challenge was institutional bias. When we start talking about gender equality, people looked as us and said "Oh my God, here comes this bunch of women talking about women. What is this?" Thus, there is a necessity to recognize that gender bias embedded in institutional culture. We had to break through and break this. We also had to go through a power struggle within the community. Of course, when we are saying that we recognize that gender is a power relationship, we don't shift roles without shifting power. That gap is a struggle that we had to deal with. We had to set up a permanent process of capacity building in which we discussed all these issues. We also prepared the grassroots women from political and technical points of view. Women and grassroots women had to understand the technicalities of regularization, inequality, and claiming their rights. We also set up a permanent process of monitoring the implementation of land regularization.

When women are empowered, the whole community benefits.

We had a meeting set up by us, as a group of women, every month to discuss with the institutions and the agencies the progress and to see what challenges and obstacles remained, and it was a big success.

The outcome of this process was land titles. After 100 years living in the area and 50 years of struggle to get the land titles, this community finally got them. Additionally, we broke women's invisibility because women had a voice and the opportunity to exercise their political power and right to be part of this process. Another very important outcome was women's empowerment. Now we can say that through this empowerment we have gender equality in policies, that the power relation in the community has changed and we will monitor that over the next years. 

Finally, I would say that this process was breaking the barriers in making concrete the idea that when women are empowered, the whole community benefits, and that is very important. Once community leaders understood that that process didn't take anything from them, but contributed to the betterment of the entire community, it was wonderful.

CASLE has been involved with the Global Land Tools Network (GLTN) for many years, particularly in Kenya and Tanzania, and was instrumental in the setting up of the Commonwealth Land Administration Group (CLAG) in December 2008.  One of the main terms of reference of CLAG is the formation of associations of land registrars on a regional basis, to encourage and facilitate the spirit of networking and knowledge sharing.

In a report of the ‘Expert Group Meeting of Land Registrars in Africa’ in Nairobi, Kenya in November 2007 in terms of gender equity, it stated that: African countries should be encouraged to investigate, the acquisition of disaggregated data when collecting land information in order to achieve gender equity, and the implementation of gender equity policies and legislation, particularly the impact on land ownership and access of customary marriages, polygamy, estate management and HIV/Aids.

GLTN partners have since developed and evaluated land tools with gender analysis into the flagship GEC which has been tested by grassroots groups in their decision making processes, focussing on large scale land tools such as land reform commissions, and has proved its usefulness as a method of data collection and in managing knowledge and producing detailed and rigorous evaluations. 

It is encouraging to know that GLTN is involved in a programme of work seeking to identify the potential of GEC to evolve both in content as well as process and that in this respect GLTN is:

  • piloting and training trainers
  • disseminating GEC criteria amongst stakeholders at global and country level
  • engaging with governments and professional groups to champion the use of the GEC
  • simplifying GEC for wider adoption by grassroots organisations.

Susan Spedding
Commonwealth Association of Surveying and Land Economy  (CASLE)

I am currently in Tigray in Ethiopia implementing a youth survey and have irregular access to internet and emails, and thus I must keep my contribution  brief.

I have worked on gender and land issues with GLTN since 2007 (joint land certification in Ethiopia). The Center for Land Tenure Studies (CLTS) - part of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) - has been a partner of GLTN since it started. I am currently working on gender-related issues in allocation of land to landless youth (based on GLTN-projects on Youth and Land in Ethiopia and Land Renting as a Pro-poor Land Tool). I am currently also studying the gender-implications of Second Stage land certification in Ethiopia where land certificates are parcel-based while the First Stage land certificates were household based. This may have important gender implications for the intra-household and gender-divided control over land. I am also organizing a Capacity-building program, CLISNARP – Climate Smart Natural Resource Management and Policy, with one Ethiopian and one Malawian university (funded by NORAD) where strong emphasis is put on capacity-building of female PhD- and MSc-students. And I am also working with the World Bank on the development of a Land Tenure Module for LSMS (and potentially other surveys) which has the potential to generate much stronger gender-focused and nationally representative data. However, I have not explicitly worked with or used the GEC although I presume I have done so implicitly as I believe many of the guiding principles are more universal although it may depend on the issue, policy, scale and context what should be given focus/priority.

Professor Stein Holden
Centre for Land Tenure Studies
Norwegian University of Life Sciences

I have recently completed research on premarital and cohabitation agreements as a pro-poor land tool.  (Research MPhil in the UCT Engineering and Built Environment Faculty).  My aim was to create and test a legal precedent that could enable poor households to be self-determining, but also able to interface with the existing land information system in South Africa to strengthen rights.  I also did not work explicitly with the GEC.  Nevertheless this is a major gap needing to be filled, as there are many gender consequences arising from the poor not having access to contracts to entrench their private dependency and maintenance rights.  I would like to engage with other land tenure specialists interested in this field.  I am currently in the process of initiating two pilot projects in South Africa.

My name is Professor John Kiema. I am Executive Secretary of the Eastern Africa Land Administration Network (EALAN), which is a regional network currently involving twelve(12) members that seeks to provide a platform for sharing and exchanging ideas, skills, experiences, knowledge, plans and programmes in land administration and management through training, education, research, practice and dissemination in Eastern Africa. 

Internalizing gender in our curricula, training and research still remains one of the biggest challenges we face within the Network. It is true that within the region, we have not done much mainstreaming of gender sensitive programs and curriculum, but we are trying to address this to build gender sensitive considerations in everything we do as a network.

Specifically, we just wrapped up this week an inception workshop of a NUFFIC sponsored project for EALAN that is designed to strengthen capacity building of the EALAN network in the great lakes region. Through this project we hope to buiid the requisite capacity to organize gender sensitive training and research in in land administration, governance. Additionally, we also hope to better understand the issues that hinder access to land by women and vulnerable groups throughout the region. We look forward to develop a  platform for knowledge sharing, evidence-based policy development. In our deliberations we have also established land governance and administration interest groups (IGs) to champion our endeavor to meet these specific objectives. Another IG is specifically targeted to address access to land by women and vulnerable groups. We aim to conceive, design and implement programs and short courses, as well as undertake  research on these subjects within the Eastern Africa region.

Dear Prof. Johm Kiema, It is great to hear about your work and ideas. We are not African based but have much in commom and would love to take the land portal as an opportunity to engage in a good discussion around gender and land. In the past 8 years we have worked and taking this process as a learning experience. We are very open to share some of our vison, experience and recent findings.

One aspect that we found as very relevant is that when we are talking about gender analysis in policy implementation, we found that it is not the end result that tells us what happened, but the process. The final data will not inform you about how data was collected, if women were considered, and what facts happened in data collecting that can reveal gender relations that are not so obvious.


Dear Colleagues—

On behalf of Landesa, I commend GLTN partners for their valuable contribution to the sector—for identifying a need, developing and proposing a criteria, preparing others to implement it, and now encouraging us to reflect and provide suggestions.

For the past four years, Landesa has included the Gender Evaluation Criteria in the curriculum of the Women’s Land Rights Visiting Professionals Program—a program we offer jointly with Resource Equity. The professionals who participate in the program come from different regions of the world and are committed to strengthening women’s land rights in their regions and spheres of influence. They come from different sectors, different disciplines, and work at different levels in their countries. During their time together, they share challenges, experiences, lessons learned and aspirations, laying the ground for long-lasting bonds and ongoing support and collaboration.

The Gender Evaluation Criteria aligns very closely with our overall approach to the program because it emphasizes the need to consider gender throughout the entire process; it clearly signals dimensions that one may not always think of but are critical for a successful gender integration; and, very importantly, it leads to practical and concrete steps. As such, while the GEC’s name may suggest that it is meant to assist in a post-design or post-implementation face, we see its greatest assistance at the initial stages, when tools or interventions are designed and when their implementation is planned.

In thinking about how to increase its potential, my recommendations fit into two buckets:

First, how can we, collectively, increase the GEC’s reach? How do we make sure others know about it and are able to use it?

  • An impressive number of organizations have already applied the GEC to deal with government interventions and with land related projects. The extent to which it has been applied to other situations is less clear to me. For example, has it been used by local groups to work with their own communities in addressing social norms that may be at the root of women’s constraints to exercise their land rights? Are there adjustments that would help GEC better assist those and other efforts?
  • Can we make the tool more easily available? I should note that in the past every time I have tried to find the GEC, it took me considerable search efforts even though I was aware of its existence, I knew its name, I knew what it looked like, I speak English and I have good internet access. I have to believe that others encounter equivalent challenges but I am confident that we can disseminate this information more broadly and can make the criteria more easily accessible.  Ideas include: posting the GEC on more websites; creating key words that more easily link to it; making it available in a format that allows editing and reformatting as needed (as opposed to only in the large poster pdf format).

Second, to maximize its potential I think we should go beyond encouraging and preparing people to use the GEC. We should leverage what is learned each time that the tool is applied. This cumulative feedback, if properly recorded and made accessible, can become a valuable source of recommendations on how policies/interventions have been adapted, on how decision-makers were convinced, on how advocates/users applied the tool, on how the tool can be adjusted, on how to overcome challenges, etc. Being able to show some of these results may help recruit future users of the GEC, engage decision-makers, and ultimately make adjustments to policies or interventions that are likely to succeed.  Rather than assuming that this body of knowledge will be created and managed organically, I suggest that approaching it as a new phase of the project that will require adequate resources and staffing.

On a very different point, when identifying, assessing and addressing gender issues, it is of course important to go beyond the men/women dichotomy. In particular, it is important to be deliberate about considering that different types of women face different situations and may have different needs and opportunities. The GEC mentions that in one of the questions but it might be worth being more explicit throughout.

I close by repeating my appreciation for the work done and look forward to hearing from others.



Diana Fletschner

Hello everybody

I used this tool to conduct a baselineto asses the status of gendered land rights in malawi prior to the implementation of the VGGT.  The tool was flexible and can be localised easily.  one of the main findings was that the tool provides a platform upon which the CSO, policy makers and communities can engage and thus address one of the biggest challenges in asessing and dialoguing about women's land rights  

Dear all

A week has gone by and more and more contributions have been providing perspectives from activists, academics and practitioners, both on the GEC and other tools used to promote women’s rights. We heard more detail from Brazil and Togo on experiences from civil society organisations using the GEC in their advocacy work, as well as from the University of Twente on using the GEC as part of their curriculum.

Patricia Chaves from Brazil reminded us of gender as the power relations between men and women, stressing that beyond the use of the matrix goes beyond the assessment of a law or policy but also helped in the process of building a collective and nuanced understanding about gender inequality, as well as gender equality as a result of women’s empowerment. The process was collective and participatory, involving government agencies, lawyers, researchers and academics as well as grassroots women from informal settlements, who had the opportunity to be heard in each phase of the process and ultimately had their land ownership recognized.

Patricia is also the first to raise a challenge of using the GEC, stressing that both institutional bias and power relations in communities need to be addressed, including through capacity-building, in order to contribute to women's empowerment – which ultimately benefits the whole community.

Related to this, Frédéric Djinadja from Togo stressed the importance of involving a range of different partners and to engage them in adapting the matrix to the country context and needs by jointly selecting criteria and planning the data collection. This means starting with capacity-building of all actors involved, the data gathered then becomes the basis for developing recommendations together.

We'd like to hear more from:

Susan Spedding of CASLE (Commonwealth Association of Surveying and Land Economy), who were involved in the setting up of the Commonwealth Land Administration Group (CLAG) in 2008, on whether and how they have used the GEC in the formation of associations of land registrars on a regional basis, and to what extent the recommendations of the Expert Group meeting on gender-disaggregated data as well as gender equity policy and legislation has been responded to.

Professor Holden about the collaboration between GLTN and the Norwegian Center for Land Tenure Studies (CLTS), including on Youth and Land in Ethiopia and Land Renting as a Pro-poor Land Tool which would be interesting to assess in terms of their gendered implications in the area of the intra-household control over land. Professor Holden also mentioned a joint capacity building program, CLISNARP – Climate Smart Natural Resource Management and Policy looks also very interesting, as well as the development of a Land Tenure Module for the World Bank's Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS).

We are also intrigued by the contribution from Leslie Downie, a young scholar finishing research on premarital and cohabitation agreements as a pro-poor land tool – please let us now more about the outcomes of your research and the pilot projects; as well as by Professor John Kiema of the Eastern Africa Land Administration Network (EALAN) on what specific challenges you are facing to internalize gender in your network's curricula, training and research.

Here's a short summary of key issues raised during week 1:

Contributors appreciate the flexibility of the tool to asses land laws and policies, but other laws (not land-related), its usefulness to not just evaluate laws, but also the gender-sensitivity of organisations (and individuals); but also the way GEC can facilitate collaboration between diverse actors as well as contribute to women's empowerment. Another important point made was on the equal importance of the process of gender analysis and the outcomes of the evaluation in itself as a key advantage of the GEC tool . Last but not least, it emerges clearly that an appropriate selection of criteria, taking into account country specificities, the characteristics of the tool assessed and the needs of actors involved is key to a succesul use of the GEC.

Thanks to all for your interesting contributions!

Sabine and Elisabetta

Two findings from another research project (joint project with Sosina Bezu) funded by the Research Council of Norway on the Impacts of Joint Land Certification in Southern Ethiopia are that wives have become more involved in crop choice decisions and land rental decisions within households. In our recently submitted report to GLTN that has not yet been made public we found some interesting effects of joint land certification on the extent of land rental activity and child nutrition. I hope to be able to publish these interesting findings in a CLTS working paper but have not heard back from GLTN since the report was submitted in the middle of December last year. On the allocation of land to youth groups in Tigray which I am now working on, the target is that 50% of the youth should be females and the group is given a joint right to the land provided that they make the expected investments and manage the land in a sustainable way. Usually, the female share has been 30-50%, however, a group we interviewed yesterday doing irrigation agriculture on their joint land had a female share of 60%. The interesting thing about this is that they need complementary income to that from their jointly provided land (where their investments may take several years before they get any returns - e.g. from planting fruit trees) and sharecropping is one of the most important sources of such addition income for many of the youth. Allocation of communal lands to youth therefore work hand in hand with the rental market where poor female-headed households often rent out their land through sharecropping contracts. It appears that allocation of communal land to the youth also has improved their access to land in the rental market.

I am delighted to be referred to as a 'young' scholar in the summary of the week's comments!  I decided to do my research based on extensive exposure in my legal career to urban property law challenges faced by the poor, and household conflicts over urban land. It aimed at finding a practical solution for common conflicts I became familar with after many years of diverse experience in Southern Africa.  

The outcome of the research was that such contracts are in principle possible.  Some of the key areas discussed were:

a) Informal practices can often be lawfully included in formal legal contracts, if there is the legal will to do so. 

b) Notarial household rights can be registered against land to strengthen dependents'  use rights above ownership rights. (They are then personal servitudes over the land.)

c) Succession rights can be included in premarital contracts.  Premarital contracts are registered in the formal land registry, but wills and testaments are not.  This means a succession agreement can be made part of the formal land registry by means of premarital contracts. 

d) Certain customary perspectives that protect dependents can be included in premarital/cohabitation contracts in a manner that defuses gender and ownership hierarchies. I am not an expert in customary law, so I approached this from a civil contractual perspective.  Ie for couples of a customary background who nevertheless choose to marry under the civil marriage statutes.  Lobola contracts can be used alongside such a civil premarital contract, lobola being a contract between families, as opposed to a prenuptial contract which is between a couple.  I hope someone else will undertake equivalent research on lobola contracts used specifically in the context of the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act.  I would be happy to liaise with such a researcher.

e) Household contracts can be a beneficial bottom-up data source that can feed into the formal land information system.

f) Even incomplete contractual processes with many informal aspects can have considerable value at grassroots.  They can still assist with social processes that secure land tenure.  This means the focus of such education should not merely see legal formalization as the only positive outcome.

My thesis tested the contracts in principle and in theory by using existing facts from seminal Constitutional Court cases and recent case studies in Rosalie Kingwill's peri-urban research in the Eastern Cape.  My pilot projects aim to refine and test the contracts with a small group of real people who own subsidized housing. I am being assisted by a local municipality to take this forward.  I will definitely use the GEC to monitor the results.  

I will be very happy to keep in contact with anyone interested in the areas my thesis covers.  The full thesis will be available on the UCT OpenUCT site by the end of February 2016.


Dear all

Thanks for your very interesting and enlightening contributions!

Building up Diana Fletschner’s comment on how to respond to specific challenges and make GEC more broadly implemented I would like to share some comments and recommendations that emerged during a project involving ILC members in Latin America.

The project, called Mujer y Tierra took place between January and October 2014 and involved five organisations: Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular/Programa Por la Paz- CINEP/PPP (Colombia) , Fundación Tierra (Bolivia), Comité de Desarrollo Campesino- CODECA (Guatemala), Centro de Mujeres Afrocostarricenses (Costa Rica) and Nitlapán (Nicaragua).

The general goal of Mujer y Tierra was to promote social and economic empowerment of women; it included three main activities, of which the last one is relevant for this on-line discussion.

-“schools” for rural women

- diagnosis documents on the situation of rural women from governance and tenure perspective

- use and adaptation of the Gender Evaluation Criteria to assess legal instruments.


I hope that some of the organisations involved would share more details on how the project was developed and which specific challenges they had to face in using GEC.  However, it is worth mentioning the recommendations emerged during the attempt to establish a common methodology and asses the relevance of these criteria and indicator for each of the countries and contexts.


Spanish translation of the GEC is not very good and this results in some confusion in the implementation and has an impact on  the understanding. Therefore, the members involved decided to elaborate an alternative translation (which, I would add, would be very useful!)
Criteria are helpful to assess general aspects, but they must be combined with qualitative study in order to assess what actually has an impact on women’s lives.
Questions on dynamics during process of change would be useful to extract lessons and duplicate initiatives
There is a need for revision and clarification of questions in relation with each indicator.
Interaction, alliance and collaboration among organisations and with  experts was fundamental to assess the functioning of the GEC
The tool is as extremely useful for the evaluation of public policies.


As others have already highlighted, it is confirmed one more time that the training component   appears particularly important in any project that aims at using GEC as a tool of analysis and assessment of women’s rights.


I hope this contribution from Latin America brings some more food for thought in our discussion.

And I look forward to reading more experiences and suggestions.



In a now-ending GLTN project with my university (Technicse Universität München), where I authored an Operational Guide for improving tenure security using land use planning as a method, I proposed an operational framework for land use planning that can be incorporated with GEC. The operational framework I proposed involves more than seven key activities for improving tenure security during a land use planning implementation. 

It became necessary to incorporate GEC into the framework after I realized that it will not be possible to make any headway in tenure improvements without conducting gender evaluation and land rights analysis. This is the most efficient way to follow pro-poor tenure security improvement in both implementation and outcome.

So, while I have not explicitly worked with or used the GEC at project implementation level. From my understanding of the tool, it that can be used to check gender-sensitiveness and responsiveness of any land management process or project that is community-based. With regards to tenure security improvement, I found it conceptually very feasible and viable because of its operational flexibility.


On the question: What other tools have you used to promote women’s land rights? What were the positive and negative outcomes of these tools? Have you combined different tools in the same project or activity?

I strongly think the GEC can actually be used as a sub-tool (to handle an aspect) for the “tenure security responsive land use planning” tool (TSR-LUP) which is currently undergoing validation by the GLTN. This way, it will serve as a specific method for making gender  evaluations in order to gain real-life data on improving tenure for women and the disadvantaged stakeholders, while at the same time guaranteeing tenure security for others.

The perspectives being presented here are really interesting.


UE Chigbu

Hello everyone, 

As one of the GLTN partners involved in the development and roll out of the GEC, it is a learning experience to see some of the continuing breakthroughts in strengthening women's land rights. Among the key characterists of the GEC is its versatility and adaptability to evaluating different tools, in diverse contexts and regions. Though at the University of East London, we work in various regions, I would like to briefly share experience of using the GEC in the Middle East and North Africa region. 

The GEC has been a vital component of our strategy to improve land, property and housing rights in the Muslim world. Dozens of training programmes or meeting have deployed the GEC as a practical means of engaging with the complex and challenging environments. Among other aspects, criteria 4 of the GEC criteria, namely social and cultural considerations in regard to women and men’s access to land, has helped in head on addressing obstacles and opportunities customary and religious dimensions pose in this region.

The GEC has helped in raising universal issues, as women in the MENA region encounter challenges not unlike women in other regions, but also systematically dealt with other distinctive dimensions. For example, one of GLTN's cross-cutting issue is the 'Islamic Mechanism' which in effect prompts questions as to whether, to what extent religious and cultural norms or practices are relevant to an intervention and if and how beneficial and innovative gendered land tools can be applied. 

Our experience has been mixed, but still positive. Expert Group Meetings as well as Action Learning Sessions in Jordan and Egypt in the past two years (following several capacity development meetings in Asia, GCC and Africa) led by Arab women have developed sophisticated approaches involving priority gendered land tools. Three among them are marital property right (which are very limited in the Arab world), inheritance rights through holistic compensatory scheme and using Islamic land tenure. 

The gender work in the Arab region is ongoing, and the scope for GEC being used more systematically is obvious. It is great to be on this forum, connecting with friends and new colleagues and sharing best practices is great. For example, Patricia's work is Brazil is inspirational. Also pleased to hear of Leslie's work on marital contract, which overlaps with what we do. Another priority area is women's access to land in conflict countries. As member of UN-Habitat's Advisory Group on Gender Issues, we are developing strategies on engaging with crisis, fragile and transition states where customary practices tend to be influential. 

Another area where GEC is generating interest is Gendered Access to Finance, for example at the First African Islamic Finance Conference where I used the GEC approach to explore how to develop gender responsive financial tools but thats a long story. 

Look forward to carrying forward our dialogue...


Prof. Siraj Sait

School of Business and Law

Director, Centre for Islamic Finance, Law and Communities

University of East London, UK





Criteria 4: The tool includes social and cultural considerations in regard to women and men’s access to land 




Dear Colleagues,

On behalf of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), I commend the Land Portal, the GLTN and its partners for their valuable contribution to the sector through the development and roll out of the Gender Evaluation Criteria.

For the past few years NRC has been using gender criteria and indicators similar to the Gender Evaluation Criteria. In 2011, NRC embarked on a five year initiative to strengthen displaced women’s housing land and property rights (HLP), to improve NRC’s response to displaced women’s HLP issues and to provide well-researched legal, policy and practice recommendations for the humanitarian community.

Research was conducted in 11 of NRC's Information, Counselling, and Legal Assistance (ICLA) programmes; Afghanistan, Ecuador, Lebanon, Liberia, Palestine (Gaza), Central African Republic, Panama, South Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire, Jordan and Venezuela. More information on these programmes can be found at

Each country report, available at, documents the main challenges displaced, refugee and returnee women face with regards to their HLP rights in the context of the national legal and social structure, and the role of customary and religious justice mechanisms. They illustrate how displaced women’s HLP rights have been generally neglected in humanitarian response.

Above all, NRC´s experience confirms that women’s HLP rights are not just violated and abused by warring parties, but by their own families and communities. Overwhelmingly, the main obstacles for women’s access to justice for HLP rights are repressive social norms that limit both women’s understanding of their rights and their options for seeking redress when rights are denied. This is compounded by poverty and socio-economic disadvantage; high rates of illiteracy and lack of awareness of rights, resources, social support and economic means. The women NRC works with have had their land sold by family members or occupied with impunity; they have missed out on shelter assistance when it is allocated to the male head of household; returnee women have been evicted from their family home after divorce and their inheritance rights are denied.

The Gender Evaluation Criteria aligns very closely with NRC ICLA Programme's overall aim to improve the assistance provided to displaced women in conflict and post-conflict situations. The GEC emphasizes the need to consider gender throughout the entire process to ensure that structured inequalities are removed (e.g. through guarantees of equalities and non-discrimination) and women's access to land is supported into project design and planning, roll out and monitoring and evaluation.  NRC is particularly interested in the Criteria no. 3 – The tool includes legal and institutional considerations for women and men – as NRC supports displaced women’s access to justice to claim their housing land and property rights in displacement situations.

For more information on NRC ICLA Programme, please visit ; for the NRC reports on displaced women’s housing land and property rights, please visit the project website at

Thanks again for the opportunities to share the NRC experience and looking forward to a continued fruitful exchange of experience and collaboration.

All the best,

Laura Cunial 

Dear all

Thanks a lot for interesting contributions that you keep posting on this page!

First of all, let me thank Gaynor and Diana whose posts were not yet included in the summary of the first week of discussion.

They confirmed, one more time, that GEC is a flexible tools that can be adapted to several context and that its use facilitate the collaboration and engagement of a variety of actors.

Landesa’s use of GEC in the curriculum of the Women’s Land Rights Visiting Professionals Program during the past four years is an extremely interesting experience. And it would be very interesting to know how these professionals used the GEC in their own contexts.

Two of Diana’s remarks are particularly interesting: on the one hand on the possibility of using GEC in assistance at the initial stages, when tools or interventions are designed; on the other hand on the importance of taking into account the diversity of needs and opportunities among women.

We would like to thank Stein Holden and Leslie Downie for responding to our questions. Stein Holden shared findings from another joint project funded by the Research Council of Norway on the Impacts of Joint Land Certification in Southern Ethiopia, focusing on the effects of  joint land certification on land rental activity and child nutrition. He also provided more data on projects involving youth.

Leslie Downie’s post gave us more details on her research on informal practices, succession rights included in premarital contracts, customary perspectives.  It would be interesting to see how the use of GEC, as she planned to do, will be relevant for her pilot projects that aim to refine and test the contracts with a small group of real people who own subsidized housing.

Other interesting projects where GEC have been incorporated as a tool of including gender evaluation and land rights analysis have been presented. The described by  UE Chigbu confirms that  GEC can serve as specific method to gain real-life data on improving tenure for women and the disadvantaged stakeholders.

Versatility and adaptability of the GEC are further stressed by Prof. Siraj Sait. The experience from the Middle East and North Africa region on the use of criteria 4 to help in addressing obstacles and opportunities originated by customary and religious dimension appears particulary interesting because of its application in an Islamic context.  The use of GEC in Gendered Access to Finance, just mentioned by prof. Sait looks very stimulating as well.

The experience of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), shared by Laura Cunial, on the use of criteria and indicators similar to GEC on displaced women’s housing land and property rights highlights  hat these tools serve to provide well-founded recommendations. It would be very interesting to have an in depth look at the report shared by Laura Cunial (see link in her post).  She also underlines the alignment between the GEC and NRC ICLA Programme's aim. The main aspect is the need to take into account a variety of gender aspect throughout the process of planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of programmes.

Eventually, the case I shared from Latin America, further confirm the positive features of the tool, while suggesting some revision and clarification.

A summary of key aspects that emerged through the debate include:

-efficacy of the GEC to check gender sensitiveness and responsiveness of laws and policies

-versatility and adaptability

Challenges and steps forwards  include:

Some revision and clarification, including for what concern the translation of the tool
Make the tool more easily available, both in terms of material access and dissemination of  knowledge
Better understanding on the extent of the use of GEC
Leverage of what learned through the implementation of the tool and creation of an accessible system of records to  further encourage and facilitate its use

Looking forward the next two days of discussion it would be good to read more and more experiences not only on the use of GEC, but also on the challenges mentioned above and on the interaction of GEC with other tools.



Thank you Elisabetta for the wonderful summary. Good  mid-week summary.



Considering that GEC is "demonstrably good at collecting data, managing knowledge, producing tangible and rigorous evaluations and engaging with multiple stakeholders to discuss and validate evidence-based information", it could also be used in general community development. There are many community development scenarios in rural areas of developing countries that warrant rigorous evaluations and stakeholder engagements with respect of the realigning the positions of men and women (especially the situation of women) in male-dominated rural cultures.


Take for instance this research I did in Nigeria, entitled Repositioning culture for development: women and development in a Nigerian rural community. My findings from this research show that, land issues apart, cultural factors (such as the inferiorisation of women within the social space) contribute to their poverty and hinder them from realising their full individual and group potentials. The gender patterning, as it currently is in most rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa (just for an example) limits opportunities of women. Women have higher potentials for development, but their inferior placements within the cultural space of these traditional societies make it difficult for them to elicit their potentials. Yet, they play more prominent roles in community development than is acknowledged—e.g. as breadwinners, homemakers and change agents, etc. 


The GEC can be used beyond land matters up to broad community development issues. This is possible because its function can be stretched to evaluating development issues in sensitive social and cultural communities with deeply-rooted challenges related to power structures. Of course this would need simplifying it to cater for wider usage in communities and by grassroots organisations. 

Thanks Uchendu, for this suggestion.

Just one clarification: have you ever actually used GEC in community development or is it "just" a suggestion based on your experience and researc? If you did it would be interesting to know how you adapted the matrix to do so. 

Both this suggestion and what Patricia wrote about GEC as a tool to "understand" gender inequality and empower women go far beyond the original scope of the tool!


thanks again




Hi Elisabetta,

I have not used GEC in a project. I analysed its incorporation with a yet to be launched GLTN Tool, "Tenure responsive land use planning". 




Millennium Development Goal 3 promotes gender equality. While some progress has been made, women’s empowerment has not been achieved and vast disparities remain between the sexes in terms of access to education, land rights and political participation.


In the CASLE Secretary General’s office we have taken an interest in these issues for some years and particularly since the publication of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  We have raised the issue of the rights of women as well as those of poor people, particularly in regard to land tenure and we have encouraged debate and the spread of information on these issues at many of our conferences.


We have a powerful advocate in Dr Mrs Matilda Fiadzigbey, who was the Chief Administrator of Stool Lands in Ghana, first women president of the Ghana Institution of Surveyors (GhIS) and CASLE Regional President for Africa until her retirement.  We have emphasised the role of secure title to landed property in generating finance for development and economic activity.  Indeed at this stage of development of professional and societal interest in the relevant issues, it is clear that the rights of women and the rights of poor people are similarly under-developed and require action by central and local government, as well as the professional practitioners involved in the processes of developing land, to formulate policies to achieve greater equity.


Undoubtedly there needs to be simultaneous top down legislation action in countries,  as well as bottom up constructive pressures in the same direction.  These are approaches that CASLE has sought to encourage but our influence,  as professional people,  is dependent on a developed legal framework and coordinated impetus from people with interests at the local level.


Relevant CASLE Activities

A significant CASLE conference held at White Sands, Dar es Salaam, in June 2009 focused on the all-important subject of equitable access to land in Africa and in particular the rights of women, orphans and marginalised communities.


In November 2010,  CASLE participated in a Global Land Tools Network (GLTN) Training for Land Professionals meeting in Mombasa,  on the theme ‘Gender Equitable Approaches to Land Tools’  which focused on establishing a continuum of land rights and the creation of innovative, pro-poor, scalable and gender sensitive land management and land tenure tools.


In more recent years with government support there has been a remarkable growth of academic programs in land administration in Eastern Africa e.g. Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Tanzania, mostly at bachelor degree level. Ethiopia embarked on an MSc program in Land Administration, while universities in Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda, are developing their postgraduate curricula.


In 2010 these countries and their universities started the Eastern Africa Land Administration Academic Network (EALAAN) in order to support each other in the development of their curricula.



The goals, values and priorities of the GLTN underscore the need for all land tools to be gender-sensitive, as does the process of tool development itself.  The Gender Evaluation Criteria (GEC) is a development from the GLTN goals, values and priorities but in order for it to be effective we concluded that the following criteria need to be in place:-



political understanding -  innovative systems to provide land for pro poor housing projects
advance planning to achieve equitable access to land
empower women economically to enable them to compete in land dealings
formal engagement between communities and local/national governments


gender balanced approach
protection of women’s land/tenure rights
innovation in economic models to favour women’s access to land
reduction in the number of slum settlements
replacement of squalid informal settlements
improvement in education opportunities


It is difficult to assess the true effectiveness of the Gender Evaluation Criteria (GEC) but it has provided a useful tool and focussed attention on equitable access to land and the rights of women. The recent assessment of the lack of progress of Millennium Development Goal 3 has given the impetus to use the tool effectively to achieve women’s empowerment, political participation and equitable access to education and land rights by 2030.

As Uganda Land Alliance, we were introduced to this great tool between 2008-2010. These are times when we were also grappling with the development of the current national land policy, which was finally approved by the government in February 2013. To work the text in the document, we had been championing issues around land tenure and women's land rights, but we thought of a tool that could easily bring about a multi-stakeholder approach, and especially take it to government, and to know, what are some of the gaps regarding women's land rights, ownership, control and utilization of land. What are the gaps in terms of the government and district levels in terms of structural issues. We received a training in the use of the GEC, on what it is and how it can be used. In 2012, we decided to call government on board, and we conducted a research in 10-12 districts in Uganda. The districts were representative of the different regions. This research sought to find out issues around women's land rights from different perspective, from the community perspective, from the district. It also served to test whether the district plans, for example, in terms of budget and policies, responds to the needs of both women and men. We had the Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development in Uganda joining in the research, and actually conducting it together with us, and we also had people from several districts.

We looked at several issues, the issue of disaggregated data, how it can speak to some of these issues concerning women’s rights to own land and gender justice in particular. This was interesting, the findings were very interesting. For example, we found that most of the district’s plans were not gender sensitive, not sensitive to issues around women’s land rights, budgets were made even just programs, approaches in the different programs of the districts were not sensitive. Even the issues of knowledge about women’s rights to own, to access and to utilize land was a bit restricted. So, in disseminating the findings of that research we discovered that this tool actually encompasses, it brings all parties, all stakeholders together. It does not segregate, everyone can sit around a table, and comfortable discuss these issues that cut across borders (?). The issue concerning women’s rights to land in Uganda, was not understood in the past. People thought that it was just a push for “women, women, women”. But we found now that it was all-encompassing. It brought all stakeholders to a table to discuss these issues. We were inspired by using the GEC, to conduct another action research, which was supported by the Agribusiness Trust (Agritrust). We did this in about six districts in Uganda and we wanted to find out how we could inform people about land rights in a practical way, instead of preaching about it. By now, we had seen the practicality that the Gender Evaluation Criteria had brought forth. This was using the Agribusiness angle: how can we actually impact the life of a woman? How can society rise up to the occasion by looking at the right for a woman to land, to use, access and utilize land from the perspective of Agribusiness. And when we did this research, it was sponsored by Agribusiness, we had a project around it in several districts Eastern Uganda and Northern Uganda. What we did with these projects was using the GEC, the community saw a need for the development of a movement, what we call the “Women’s Advocate Movement”. A group of fifty women who have volunteers of their own, from their communities, coming up to form themselves as women’s advocates. So they are able to advocate for women’s land rights, in their districts and in their community. They give themselves the role to spread the sensitization-drive around women land rights and gender justice. They also charge themselves with the responsibility of approaching their leaders at the district, so that issues around women land rights and gender justice are encompassed in their district plans. They took advantage of international public holidays or celebrations, like for example the International Day for Rural Women, Women’s day, to channel advocacy messages related to women’s land rights from their different perspectives and contexts. And these sort of movements worked to turn around and inspire another movement of now men, that is termed as “The male champions”. Men now joining with women to champion women’s land rights and gender justice. Also, fifty men in their respective districts. These groups charge themselves with the. We built them with the capacity in the GEC and the different land tools, land policies and procedures. After their capacities were built, there were now able to now actually look at households in their communities. Households where there are widows, households where there are children, to see that they drew action plans. How does a household where there is a married couple, they do something together. But then when treated the market control, when the projects are taken to the market, the men usually take over that process. So, the women utilize the land, they farm their crops, but then, when it reaches marketing, it is the man’s role. So you find that the economic empowerment of the woman is stopped. The balance is gone. When the money comes in for the produce, the woman does not benefit. And so, with these kinds of groups, when they reach out to such households, they preach the message of gender justice and women’s land rights to them. And guide them with action-planning, and fulfilling the actions. These resulted into what we regard as very successful case studies and successful stories of how it has impacted on the lives of the common community members in the districts that we’ve been operating and championing the GEC. For example, in the western part of Uganda, we have success stories of families where women and their husbands were able to sit down and plan for their family. They are able to sell their crops and in turn, impact on the lives of the family in terms of sending children to school. Better decision-making. One of the key bottle-necks to women enjoying their full rights in the gender justice-arena is the issue of decision-making. And this is based in the household. And so it will break through the chain, then men look at women as partners in development, that they can sit together and plan together and impact positively on the lives of their family.

Secondly, in the households and communities where women, widows, we saw a change were women were able to do farming and were able to invest together as a group, I want to call them VSLA. The VSLA got inspired to contribute money and lend money to other members of the community. Women now were able to invest by land in their own names, build structures, shops that they were able to rent out. Others were able to take on businesses like shops that in the end would feed back into the family in terms of improving their welfare and livelihoods.

In some areas, for example in Mukono, women realized that, all along, they have been married but they were just, they were weaknesses in land sale transactions, with their husbands. A particular woman in Mukono, after coming to terms with the GEC and knowing her land rights, was able to approach her husband and they had a review of the arguments they have been having all along, was just a weakness and not an argument. She would also contribute to some of them in the buying of land. She was able to actually convince him and he was able to give her parts of land where she’s been able to register her own name on the title so she can also pass it on to her children.

At first, we worked in 12 districts and then we chose six districts, where we’ve been implementing consequent projects. We have made a lot of efforts to ensure that the district plans, projects are also gender-sensitive. With regard to land and gender, you especially need encouraging and putting out issues around women’s land rights. For example, the outstanding districts are practicing that right now. In the research we found out that in Tsungamo district, the discrimination against women or the plight of women around land was to the extent that there were things called the ‘male-crops’ and the ‘female-crops’. Where the male-crops were crops that would make more money. Cash crops, crops that had market value. Whereas the ‘female-crops’ were crops that, that did not have enough value on the market. And so, that concept started changing after the research and the dissemination of the findings, the involvement of stakeholders, the coming up of women advocates, the male champions, the consequence in sensitization: women getting into groups of (economic and social) empowerment, and through the visual vigilance. Through participating in marketing their crops, women being able to transact from their groups: buying and investing in land, building houses for rent, opening up shops, you know – spreading their livelihood and not just remaining there. Educating their children, that happens.

At the national level, with the ministry of land, Ministry of Gender and Social Development, our statistics department, the Uganda National Bureau of Statistics, we saw also a transition in the way things are done. For example, the making of the national land policy, the section around women land rights, around customary tenure, being sensitive to issues concerning women, gender justice, it has been heavily realistic because of the gender evaluation criteria. Because of the research and the consequent multi-stakeholder engagement. To the extent now that before any government projects is done or approved, it must get, what we call a gender certification. It must pass the test. It must have a gender certification. In that it must be able to be sensitive to the issues concerning women, even in the ministry of Land. The partners have been strong in capacity building for the land administration and management structures. They do not provide for district land boards or land committees that a part of that composition has to be women. The issue was, the research monitor reviewed the effectiveness of women participation was lacking, it was just in the law that the women had to be in these committees, but you did not see the real participation. So capacity building for those structures to bring forth the issues around women participation. Women were able to point out, when they were taking decisions in their work, that women are protected, that their rights are enshrined in the constitutions and the laws, they are brought forth and codified and connected. And now in the times when we are about to implement a land policy, and when the government wants to titles or give, ownership rights or communal land associations to protect customary land, we are saying that we must be able to assess and make sure that the ownership does not leave women behind. These ownerships must be sensitive about women owning, especially married women, they are most likely left out in the customary tenure. Of course for us as an organization, the way we conduct our activities, field-level and national level activities, now there is a gender lens. Now when we are going to conduct a community sensitization for example. The issue of timing, the issue of place, the timing of the activity: what time will it take place? Where will it take place? It must be sensitive about the participation and the attendance of women. In the past we just conducted sensitization drives, we just conducted it at any time, in the morning and we realized that the rural women, in the morning, she’s doing farm work, so she’s not going to be available for a community meeting. The best time to actually if you want the message to reach rural women and you want her effective participation, should be after lunch in the afternoon, at about 2/3. That’s when she’s done with the farm work, she has come back home and prepared a meal for her family, and in the afternoon she has time to relax. That is the best time to get them together with the men and get them to discuss issues around women land rights. It has also changed our approach in field-based activities and even national-level activities.

We also managed to conduct an assessment, we have a report, we had an assessment of how we use the GEC. What are some of the achievements, what are the challenges? Of course, one of the things that the assessment revealed about the GEC is that for a person, for the normal person looking at it for the first time, it is a bit complex. Especially in terms of its outline, the criteria and so on. It is still a bit complex. These are issues we have been talking about with the GEC community or practitioners. I remember we had a meeting in Kenya, in 2014, where we were with the most of these guys have moderated it, in particular with Patricia Chaves and Lowie Rosales-Kawasaki. We had a meeting there and we were trying to look at the issue of trying to simplify, the two things came up: so it was more user-friendly, even for the lowest level of the community, the issue of complexity still hangs around. That’s one thing that has been identified by the assessment, the evaluation assessment that we did. It was done last year, towards the end of the year. And we have the report ready. We now want to look for ways of calling for meetings for dissemination, together with the Ministry of Land. So it informs the Ministry, especially now that we are leaping forward in making sure that we implement the national land policy. We have the implementation matrix in place, the national land policy implementation action plan, is in place. And we want to make sure that we disseminate this finding, share back and forth with GLTN, ILC and all the stakeholders, to edit and to make a contribution to this.

But also, we are moving as step further. We want to see how the GEC can fit into their tools, for example the GLTN’s STDM tool and the rest. So we are designing a project around that and we want to see how, for example, if the registration is taking place in land, for getting certificates, how are women positioned there and how does that fit into the national land information system of the country. These are some of the synergies that we are already thinking about and are working on. To make sure we continue to use this tool and also the issue of replication. How do you replicate it? In other districts around Uganda, how do we assist other countries. Around Uganda for example, DRC is still in the young stages of using the GEC. We want to build expertise around this area so we are able to change policies, and change the lives of our people. This is a tool that’s been accepted, a tool that is all unifying, a tool that is very practical, a tool that is manned by us, a tool which is for real.

The Indonesian Institute for Forest & Environment (RMI) conducted training about gender equality on agrarian reform and natural resources management for women and youth, including for testing the GEC tool on government regulations. We used the GEC to test the Village Act (UU 6/2014) and Perber on Procedure for Conflict Resolution in Forest Area from 4 ministries, including the Internal Affairs Ministry, Forestry Ministry, Public Work Ministry, and National Agraria Agency.

In order to conduct these activities, we collaborated with the Gender Studies department at the University of Indonesia and the Commisioner Human Rights for Women, a government agency, to set up the gender training design and implementation. As this project was part of the National Engagement Strategy (NES) supported by the International Land Coalition (ILC), we also collaborated with KPA, (an alliance of civil society or community organisation), JKPP (a network of civil society or community organisations) and Sajogyo Institute (a research institute), especially for preparing this activity.   

Related to advocacy work at the national level, as we were evaluating the Village Act and Perber, then we would have needed to match the national-level advocacy agenda at national level by CSOs. This was not an easy process due to the fact that it was a new regulation and because CSOs and the grassroots community was still under a process of consolidation. Especially with regard to Perber, there is counter position to both government and CSOs position. Consequently, barriers to the implementation of Perber remain. This has limited the use of the GEC to sharing them with CSOs and the Ministry of Empowering Women and Children.       

RMI was one of the participants in the GEC Training and Planning for In-Country Land Initiatives in Bogor-Indonesia in August 2013 conducted by KPA, ILC, UN-Habitat and GLTN. Then when RMI proposed the NES Indonesia, RMI included GEC testing on government regulations as one of proposed project on NES. This activity was part of training for women and youth which has was conducted in February 2015 that engaged 13 CSOs from 6 Indonesian provinces.

In 2000, RMI was the first organization to lead and conduct gender training on natural resources for CSOs in Indonesia. Gender perspectives is one of our organization’s primary values. For us, GEC represents a system that could enrich our tools to analyze gender on our programs and also to assess government regulations. We have promoted GEC tools with other organizations, especially when we talk about gender issues. 

When we conducted training for women and youth last Feb 2015, training participants were able to integrate gender analysis (including GEC) when they worked with their communities. They have learned how to assess government regulations using GEC, and they can expand this effort to assess additional regulations, as well as programs at community level.

The positive aspects of the GEC are its usefulness in assessing programs and regulations and to test whether they address gender equity or not. GEC is a useful tool for providing inputs to programs and regulations have a gender equity perspective. GEC is relatively easy to implement because it has guiding questions to test programs and regulations, which are flexible based on the situation.

The negative aspect of the GEC is that we were not able to use it in a practical way to understanding gender issues. It should combine with other tools such as the Harvard framework, Mosser, Longwee or Nayla Kabeer analysis tools.   

Hie everyone

Forgive me for coming into the discussion a bit late. Hoewever, it seems from the discussions GECis a tool that can be used in different contexts and this has been our experience

After attending  practitioners training on GEC,  Southern Alliance for Indigenous Resources (SAFIRE) pilot tested the tool in one district in 6 months . SAFIRE focus was on using  the GEC tool to improve the situation of women with regards to access and control of natural resources through reviewing gender responsiveness of existing Natural resources management legislation. Focus of the exercise was on evaluating gender responsiveness of the process conducted in  designing and formulating  district  level natural resources management  by laws in one district  as well as the contents of the by- laws. The exercise revealed opportunities for scaling up the tool at national level as well as challenges. Results of the evaluation provided a clear way forward.


  • Generally the process of NRM by law formulation was not gender sensitive as evidenced by poor participation of women in the design and process of by law formulation. The process left women’s voices and views and concerns unacknowledged.   
  • Documentation and record keeping was found to be very poor at both community and district level. Sex disaggregated data was missing and evaluators relied on abstract information.
  • Majority of the stakeholders displayed challenges with basic gender terms, issues and implications. Lack of gender mainstreaming policy and strategies at RDC level greatly affected the quality of the by-laws with regards to gender responsiveness.
  • Traditional leaders who participated acknowledged that cultural and customary practices continue to take precedence over the constitutional equality provisions on access and control of natural resources. The traditional leaders promised to encourage other traditional leaders to do away with cultural practices that discriminate and oppress women with regards to access and control to natural resources. 
  • The area where most stakeholders identified as a major gap was the poor participation of women in the process of by law formulation.  There was a consensus among the participants that women especially in the communal areas have access to natural resources but control is in the hands of men.  There is potential for up scaling GEC to national level using existing spaces as well as creating other platforms for discussing gender and NRM issues.   Identification of strategic partners for scaling up was initiated. 



  • Preconception – some individuals  took the validation exercise as an audit, hence were not prepared to share  more information with the evaluation team
  • Achieving the critical mass- 40% could not be achieved at the district level as majority of the targeted d district offices have male employees at management level.
  • Resources for scaling up. Zimbabwe government is currently experiencing economic challenges, hence not ii a position to support their staff in implementing field exercises.


Project supporting GEF should have a long time frame of  at least 2 years so that processes initiated can be followed up and supported as well as building capacity of the implementation team in gender and land issues. there is also need for well resources government departments that can support the processes without overburdening projects facilitating the tool.



Gender Evaluation Criteria (GEC) is a tool well known by members of  GLTN as a progressive gender examination tool that has been tested and promoted to secure women's land rights.  This tool is widely used in examining gender responsiveness of programmes, policies and practices; and continue to contribute significantly in ensuring various initiative geared towards securing women's land rights address basic and strategic needs of women and men. The checklist of question provided in the GEC gives a indepth analysis of key issues that ensure women representation and participation in key decision making over land and other natural resources. These questions help us reflect and understand the extent to which programmes, policies or practices we develop secure women's land, are gender responsive and enable us to map key stakeholders to involve in our programmes, policy advocacy and influencing work. The tool provides a standard for which everyone, regardless of sector,  can interact and use it to test gender responsiveness of their initiatives and those of others. To me this tool has made tremendous contribution in expanding the space of women participation in decision making in land governance and administrative practices, even in difficult cultural environment where women have ever since been left out of decision making.

Oxfam is committed to gender equality and continously put women at the center of our work. With programmes ranging from gender and economic justice, women's land rights and other natural resource rights , the principle of GEC are enshrined. These include promotion of women organising around issues affecting them, participaiton in decision making levels including committees of traditional and religious leaders to influence land governance and women's access and ownership of land including Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, Malawi, Senegal and Nepal; government and private sector engagment and policy influencing.  

Other models developed to secure women and orphans land rights by various organisations also  have benefited from GEC; enabling them to have a gender inclusive and responsive approaches that put women at the fore in demanding for their land rights, securing such rights they enjoy in their communities by working with local authority, traditional leaders and other key stakeholder. For instance, GROOTS Kenya a member of Huairou commission developed the 'Community Watch Dog' model to protect widows and orphans land rights; a very successful approach that position women as champions of their own rights, protecting and preserving women and orphans land rights through a multi-stakeholders engagment process. Women have been able to initiate land mapping exercises that record and facilitate protection of their community land, forest and public land using geospartial tools - for instance, a current Oxfam funded initiative implemented by Kenya Land Alliance in partnership with Namati in Kenya to protect community land. Further, Grassroots Sisterhood Foundation in Ghana, led by Fati Alhassan, who is one of the grassroots leaders from Africa with the Huairou Commission, pilotted the GEC. Grassroots women leaders in Ghana were able to e able to map the different stakeholders who live in their community including cultural chiefs who are the custodian of land, local government authorities and religious leaders to initiate a dialogue on women's land rights. Engaging with these leaders in a step by step manner, have seen more women receiving fertile land for agriculture and housing. Although highly partriachial society with decision making that is male dominated, use of GEC allows one to penetrate and gradually concur social cultural norms that define power dynamics between men and women; which serve as a major barrier to women land tenure security in Africa. Various approaches have als had to use Paralegal model; which involve training of women leaders and men in the community on legal aid and education to serve as resource persons and provide advise to those in need to secure their land through formal justice system. There is no doubt that GEC if well implemented in an environment with good political will to secure women's land rights, more women stand to enjoy secure tenure rights. This tool is highly adaptable not only to land issues but also in all other spheres of life in which women and men need to actively participate in decision making, enjoy and realise their human rights.

Although GEC is a very comprehensive tool and makes great contribution to our efforts to secure women's land rights, the following are areas of improvement:

- the tool is well known and appreciated largely by CSOs and other stakeholder, mainly members of GLTN. More needs to be done to empower women at the community level to use this tool to hold governments, private sector and CSOs to account in their programmes, policies and practices on land governance  and other issues affecting them.

- GEC needs to be mainstreamed in all other GLTN tools to ensure they are gender responsive.

- With increasing national and international interest in large scale land based investment in Africa and elsewhere, GEC may need review to further examine the space of women and men in the community when faced with large scale land based invesment involving the goverment, private investors, and customary leaders; and the power dynamics at this level posing serious threats to women's land rights in a continent like Africa where approximately 75-90% of land is governed under customary law. There is need to have GEC mainstreamed in other mechanisms like the Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance of Tenure; the African Union Guiding Principles on Large Scale Land Investments; and governments land reform processess to strengthen their gender responsive.

Oxfam in partnership with International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), are developing a best practice step by step 360 degree guide (gendered tool) on meaningful community engagement, purpose to empower women and community in general to participate in all stages and decisions involving large scale land based investment in agriculture in Africa and to secure their land rights and other benefits are protected. The gendered tool on meaningful communtity engagment (currently being developed) mainstream GEC to sharpen its gender responsiveness; and hence its applicability, acceptibility and political support is anticipated. The GEC helps us create a broader vision of an inclusive society in which women and men enjoy secure tenure rights. However, actual implementation of GEC need to take into account the nitty-gritty of specific contexts and while underscoring emerging issues affecting men and women differently.

Oxfam has developed a manual for community application of free, prior and informed consent including a community consent index, a tool anchored on human rights and promote women participation in decision making. GEC also enable us contribute to policy discussions, assessing the language and content to ensure such policies are gender responsivie. Oxfam is a member of GLTN.

Everlyne Nairesiae
Women's Land Rights Advisor

Oxfam International


Land is a major production resource and lack of control over this important resource has constituted a limiting factor to women’s productivity in rural Nigeria. It is not customary for women to own land in most communities in Nigeria. Women’s access to land depends on marriage and they retain access to land as long as they remain in their husband’s house-hold. Lack of accessibility to land has created increased poverty, frustration, constant disputes and enmity between men and women. The situation has also become overwhelming, bearing in mind the fact that a greater population of women and children, the vulnerable in society reside and find their livelihood in the rural areas. Also, women contribute more in terms of food production for the family. Ironically, women suffer more due to land deprivation and discriminatory cultural practices just as their contribution to the sustenance and persistence of rural agriculture is neglected due to male bias. Our work is position in the framework of questioning the exclusion of women’s land rights and the challenge of patriarchy in Agriculture , in a bid to guarantee gender equity and social justice by reducing the level of discrimination and ensuring that women have rights to fertile agricultural land so as to arrest to an appreciable extent the food crisis in the country by improving their production output and ensuring higher incomes.


Promoting women’s land rights at the local and national-level Nigeria is far from a complete huge success. This is because there is no any meaning nationally coordinated data to show how many people accessing and owning land and how many number of women holding positions in land governance structures at all level – national-, district- and community levels thereby demonstrating the degree of landlessness among women segregated by single women and widows.


Technically as civil society organizations using the GEC tool is imperative .We have not operationalised it per excellence, but have used the information it provided to engage stakeholders in order to address shortfalls on women land access and rights which may be observed. Nigeria Agricultural Policy 2000 is devoid of reporting mechanism for large-scale land based investments with a view to ensuring that these ventures are beneficial to women. Tracking progress in strengthening women's land rights can include the following

Number of women in influential land administration structures

 Number of women owning land in their own right

Number of women accessing land in their own right

 Number of widows remaining on family land upon death of their spouses.

Number and type of conflicts related to land involving women at village level – indicating who is involved. Etc

In Taraba State Nigeria, Women access to land and right to Land varies from community to Community. Land is not transferred due to “My mother or my sister” used the land for Agricultural practices. However, Women can own land through buying piece of Land but inheriting from Husband and one father is still a challenge.

What other tools have you used to promote women’s land rights? What were the positive and negative outcomes of these tools? Have you combined different tools in the same project or activity? If so please share a story about this experience.

Therefore strengthening women's land rights can be achieved by formulating land policies at country levels where such policies are non-existent, reviewing policies that are inconsistent with international and regional women’s rights instruments, mainstreaming gender in land policy and land administration system, carrying out advocacy and awareness creation activities on women’s land rights, establishing strong women’s movement and networks, and carrying out further research

See this on our work

We have addressed the gender responsiveness criteria various times in education and training courses for professionals who work in land administration organisations. The task was always to evaluate to which extent the public organisations which are responsible for registrating, surveying and recording land rights are themselves adhering to gender equity practices. At first instance most officials and professionals always state that their organisation is perfectly adhering to such norms, but when using the criteria from GEC one comes quickly to the conclusion that most organisations are in practcie far from reaching such goals. Often contracts are equal, but the distribution of tasks and associated extra's or benefits are completely unequal. Fieldwork and land surveys with extra wages or hardship allowances tend to be done by men. this also infleunces to allocation or recognition of rights, which then tend to favor tradtional relation. In other words, looking in depth to organisaitonal practices and their impacts on formal decisions needs further attention.      

In Russia land legislation makes no distinction between man and woman from the point of view of the rights of ownership of land. Both male and female can possess, use and dispose of the land without discrimination. Moreover, the local authorities and the rural communities usually provide assistance and support to women carrying out agricultural production  based on the property rights or land lease. In addition, the role of women is important and often dominant factor in economic decision process, because the status of women as mother, wife, daughter, and sister in Russia traditionally is extremely high. However, the GEC are very important for assessing the role of women in the realization of the right of land ownership. It seems to me that they should be differentiated depending on the level of economic development of the country, its geographical position, population structure and other factors. However, I would say we should not rely only on statistical indicators, since they can not be reliable because of the lack of necessary information. More important in my opinion will have field trips and study of certain groups of international experts focusing on providing of comparability of results of the implementation criteria.


Common Challenges for Women and right to land  in Ethiopia

1. Social and Cultural Perceptions and Relations

There is a need to change the perception and attitude we have towards gender issues, in general, and women, in particular. True, the role of women is in the forefront. Women are responsible in preparing food and drink to the family or community in times of wedding and funerals or feasts. Men are not active in such routine housework as there is a belief that such activities would be an insult to his manhood. Though it is very flexible, there is a traditional pattern and norm that guides the division of labour, hence the expression, “A woman into the enclosure, and a man into the square.”


Most of the housework of women is not recognized when compared with men’s work. This is because there is a tendency of associating high values to masculinity compared with maternity. Women engage in multiple tasks and responsibilities. In the housework, for example, in addition to child bearing and rearing, she is responsible for cooking, grinding of grain, cleaning the house and fetching water. Still, however, there is no a total rejection of the contribution of the role of women in the continuation and consolidation of family and settled life in highland areas of Ethiopia and hence the saying, “As home without woman (women) could not make sense, so is a farm without an ox (oxen).

2. Labour Issue

The Ethiopian agricultural system requires huge labour that women usually lacked. Lack of capacity is the factor for woman to rent her land. Farming is labour intensive and demands ox-labour. In the absence of ox-labour, it is too difficult for women to manage their land properly and effectively. Poorness, sickness, old age, temporary departure from the area and absence of male sons are among the factors that force them to rent their land. The women, like other sections of the population, have the right to lease their land. The rural land proclamation recognizes lease as one form of land holding rights.

3. Justice and Administrative Problems

There are problems in governance and court decision making process. Though there are constitutional provisions that guarantee gender equality, there are gaps in implementing and translating land use proclamations and land laws into equality and justice on the ground. Poor enforcement of progressive legislation and presence of implementation gaps make unequal power relations between women and men which in turn has little impact on the economic empowerment of women.

Land litigations and disputes are dominant the court system of the regional states. The need for land becomes more acute in most areas and hence the issue of land litigations is more sensitive and complex than before. There are factors behind land litigations and disputes. This could be related with land inheritance rights, issues risen during divorce. The complexity and subjectivity of land litigation and its decision contributes to widespread of insecurity and land dispossession among poor women.


There is deliberate denial and disregard of the documents of poor, the weak and women is very common. People go to say to the extent, “Don’t trust people, as time is getting nutty.”  There is also a saying, “One should not enter into conflict with shum [authority], one should not start wrestling against the wall.”

Whenever decisions are made against the women, it is less probable that they would appeal to the next higher court. Sometimes, some women who have the financial capacity and male relatives may tend to appeal to the next court. It is common that in the course of litigation women use their male relatives to negotiate for them if the litigation is against an outsider or non-relative.

The flexibility and contradictory natures of some articles of the regional proclamations on land use and land administration are becoming the means to exploit the weak and illiterate section of the population women. This, compounded with poor trained judges is creating a problem and complexity on implementation and settling of litigations on fair and impartial basis.

2. Opportunities and Prospects

Still there are opportunities for women in securing their right to land.

1.In the global, regional and national context, new gendered focused groups and movements are emerging and working for women wellbeing and development. There are promising practices for women. For the past decades, law reforms and gender-specific movements and groups have been emerged and expanded. Feminism, in particular, is a gendered centered movement that demands political and economic liberalization of women. African feminist movement, in particular, by avoiding conventional analysis, has commitment and political determinism as women of Africa have been excluded both in the past and present in the political economy of the region.  Feminism is becoming a force with strong sense of liberalizing women in Ethiopia. Both in the past and present, we have independent-minded and intelligent women that could help in shaping and influencing the political, social and historical trajectory of the country and beyond in terms of gender relations and dynamics.


2. Women’s rights movement is being supported and encouraged by international and regional organizations and institutions. There are a number of organizations and agencies that deal with land rights and gender issues, ranging from governmental agencies to community organizations. The most prominent ones are women associations and legal professions such as the women’s lawyers associations found in many sub-Saharan African countries. The Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA) is a case in point. EWLA is a private, non-profit and non-partisan, voluntary organization founded by a group of Ethiopian women lawyers to pursue the legal, economic, social and political rights of Ethiopian women.


3. In the national constitution, there is no discrepancy to inherit property because of sex, age or nationality. There is no problem in the code that limit women’s right to inherit and make testaments. The constitution states, “Women have the right to acquire, administer, control, transfer and benefit from property. In particular, they have equal rights with men with respect to access, use, administration and transfer of land. They shall also enjoy equal treatment in the inheritance of property.” 


Though break in family structure, such as marriage, is among the serious issue and problem in women’s life, there is less pressure, unlike the past, that could limit and disadvantage women’s access to and control over land. When the husband dies there is less likely to be evicted by the relatives of the husband from their land. They may live with rearing their children with or without marrying another husband. The presence of children is important in rural Ethiopia. Among other things, the presence of children often reinforces women’s rights to share the land. the more the number of the children they have, the higher the chance, in the case of a divorce, of providing the evidence and support of  women to have land right. After separation the land holding will be divided equally, in quantitative and qualitative bases. The book of possession will be prepared independently. Then after, divorced wives are not only moving with the movable property but also with their rights attached to the land.

Figure 1: Book of Possession

 All these are supported by affirmative action which states, “In recognition of the history of inequality and discrimination suffered by women in Ethiopia, [they] are entitled to remedial and affirmative measures. The purpose of such measures shall be to enable women to compete and participate on the basis of equality with men in political, economic and social life, and to gain access to opportunities and positions in public and private institutions.”


4. In some cases, in addition to government redistribution, there are source of access and right to land through transfer within the family for women. This may happen in different forms. It may happen through inter-generational transfers in the form of either (a) inheritance after parents’ death, or (b) inter-vivos transfers, such as land gifts upon marriage or anticipated inheritance. The other form of transfer within the family is intra-household allocation of plots to specific members. The family as a source of land is of great importance.  


Dear Land portal administrators Sabine, Elisabetta and Neil. I am delighted with the great discussion we had about the GEC and really think that there are so many things, ideas and experiences that need to be further explored and discussed. Have you considered extending the debate?

I would like to explore a bit more about some of the posts and hope to have the chance. Besides, some technical problem happened with my last post.

Dear all

First of all, thanks to 23 contributors from over 15 countries across the globe for your participation in making this a fruitful discussion!

The different perspectives of practitioners and scholars, using the GEC as a both a research and assessment tool, for a variety of topics from urban land (Brazil), natural resource management (Zimbabwe), and family law (Togo), really contributed to a dynamic discussion.

Week 1 showed that contributors appreciate the flexibility of this tool to asses land (and other) laws and policies and its usefulness to not just evaluate laws, but also the gender-responsiveness of organisations (and individuals). Importantly, the process of gender analysis and the outcomes of the evaluation itself both emerged as crucial results of using the GEC. The  GEC also proved to be a tool to facilitate collaboration between diverse actors as well as contribute to women's empowerment. What emerged clearly is that the appropriate selection of criteria, taking into account country specificities, the characteristics of the tool assessed and the needs of actors involved is key to a successful use of the GEC.

Week 2 confirmed the above and further highlighted the versatility and adaptability of the tool, but also identified some challenges, such as difficulties in accessing the tools, insufficient dissemination and a need to improve translations.

On the feature of flexibility an interesting comment by Chikondi Chavbuta stressed that flexibility may have some side effects, with a large number of indicators, all usable (or removable), leading to a biased selection in highly patriarchal settings. Chikondi suggests to establish a set of fixed criteria as a basis, with  some additional flexible ones to be used according to the context. This complements Fréderic's suggestion of a minimum number of criteria to be used to achieve a meaningful result.

Susan from the Commonwealth Association of Surveying and Land Economy (CASLE) shared an experience  of working on the promotion of gender equality in the context of the MDG . The recent assessment of the lack of progress of Millennium Development Goal 3, in fact, has given the impetus to use specific tools to promote women’s rights effectively. Susan also stressed that there is a need for a combination of top down legislation and bottom up constructive pressures and suggested how to improve the effectiveness of the GEC by adding criteria that capture political understanding, women's empowerment, engagement between communities and local/national authorities, transparency, innovation models, improvement in education, substantial change in the situation of informal settlements.

The experience of the Indonesian Institute for Forest and Environment (RMI), shared by Nana Ratnasari,the only example from Asia, focused on assessing two specific pieces of law and linking this to  advocacy work at national level. Beyond the actual assessment, GEC hasbeen a means to enrich gender analysis within their own programmes. One of the main characteristics of this case is the successful collaboration with other institutions such as government agencies and the Gender Studies department at the University of Indonesia.

In fact, as other posts in this discussion demonstrated, the GEC are a useful for university departments and researchers in general. Using GEC also serves to enhance collaboration among different types of organisations, both in terms of conducting the assessment and in providing trainings for CSOs and at community level. In Indonesia, as in Togo, the use of GEC was not only supported by ILC (both RMI and ADHD are ILC members), but it was part of a wider National Engagement Strategy process to promote dialogue with government on land policy.

The experiences of Togo, Indonesia and also Uganda included productive interaction with Ministries and other government actors. Such collaboration is  included as a recommendation  by Estella Toperesu from the Southern Alliance for Indigenous Resources (SAFIRE) in Zimbabwe, in order to diminish the burden of carrying these exercises on NGOs and CSOs project level. SAFIRE used the GEC to assess natural resources management legislation. two years process would be more fruitful in order to ensure follow up and capacity building.

Estella mentions specific challenges: preconceptions about the tool (influencing information sharing), achieving critical mass and lack of resources for scaling up. She also suggests that it would be useful to consider the GEC exercise as a process that could take up to 2 years. Raymond Enoch from Nigeria also highlighted the difficulties concerning data collection and the relevance of using the GEC tool for CSOs.

Similar to the experience at University of Twente, where GEC was used to assess gender responsiveness within organisations, another case, shared by Everlyne Nairesiae, shows the versatility of the tool, used by OXFAM as a tool to assess gender responsiveness of programmes and initiatives. One of the relevant gaps identified is that the GEC is of limited use to address issued related to private sector interventions. An interesting point raised by Everlyne concerns the use of GEC to assess the Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance of Tenure or the African Guiding Principles on Large-scale Land Investments. This connection between GEC and VVGT also emerged in a regional programme 'Mujer y Tierra' carried out by ILC members.

Another benefit of GEC which is illustrated by the experience of Grassroots Sisterhood Foundation in Ghana (headed by Fati Alhassan), is to enable communities to map different stakeholders at community level. The relevance of social dynamics and power relationships between men and women already stressed by Patricia in week one of the discussion, was also evident in Ghana in the collaboration between male chiefs, local administrators and women’s organizations.

A second contribution by Fréderic from Togo described details of the process that led to the use of GEC and  how this increased both interest for gender issues and gender sensitivity within ADHD as an organisation. The use of the tool increased interest for gender issues among different actors, though Frédéric also pointed out that there is a  a risk of politicization of the tool. The suggestions from Togo echo other contributors:  the importance of sensitization, trainings, of involving a variety of actors and simplification of documents, but also the challenge of traditional leaders being hostile to changes in customs .

As in Togo, where the GEC was also used to contribute to the drafting of the Land Law, in the experience of Uganda Land Alliance (ULA), described by Michel Omara, the tool was used to influence on the national land policy. The most important aspects that emerged were that using the GEC contributed at theoretical level to a much better understanding of gender issues and, at practical level, to establishment of collaboration between different stakeholders and to the creation of a movement of women advocates(as well as, eventually, a group of “male champions”). As for tohers who used the tool, of the  GEC also influenced the way of planning and implementing future activities of ULA. One of the challenges highlighted by Michael is the complexity of the tool at first sight.

Several contributors from Latin America confirmed that the GEC is an effective tool. Daniela and her colleagues from Fundación Plurales, Argentina, described how they assessed if a project is as gender sensitive as the organizers imagined it to be, showing that the GEC can be useful even for organisations that have a high level of gender-sensitivity. She also confirmed that knowledge exchange is fundamental to learn from others how to use the tool to the best of its potential. Javier from Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular/ Programa por la Paz (CINEP) stresses how GEC can be used in support of other projects related to rural women’s rights. An interesting suggestion from Javier is to reinforce the link between the tool and rural women’s experience and to support familiarization of government officers and policy makers with the GEC. Selmira from NITLAPAN, Nicaragua, used the GEC to assess the APAGRO programme and confirms the concerns raised by Javier. The experience shared by Selmira is one of the most detailed on the outcomes of using GEC, with a specific attention to the socio-economic dimension.

All contributors from Latin America and the Caribbean raised the issue of translation: not only is the Spanish translation in need of an overhaul, but a good translation also implies an understanding of cultural differences so that the translated version becomes relevant.

With regard to other tools, possibly to be combined with GEC, some examples are given by Nana, Everlyne, Raymond and Daniela, including: the Harvard framework, analysis tools developed by Mosser, Longwee or Nayla Kabeer, the Watch Dog Tool - with its specific application for the protection of the land rights of women and orphans, as well as approaches such as promoting paralegals and strong women’s network. Daniela also gives the example of observatories in Argentina and Bolivia that host information and monitor violations of existing legislation.

In the perspective of elaborating of new tools focusing on land-scale investment and based on the experience of using GEC, Everlyn suggested focusing on women and community participation in decision making to secure land and ensure benefits. In this regard, Oxfam developed a manual on free, prior and informed consent.

Summarising all of these contributions, here are some positive elements and challenges of using the GEC (in some cases, they are contradictory), as well as a possible way forward.

Positive elements:

  • Flexibility (for use in different socio-cultural-legal contexts)
  • Versatility (use for different tasks and in diverse projects)
  • Contributes to women empowerment
  • Stimulates collaboration
  • Increases interest for gender issues
  • Equal importance of process and outcomes


  • Too much flexibility
  • Insufficiency in addressing private sector issues
  • Bias and preconception (on gender and on the tool itself) of traditional leaders and institutions
  • Risk of politicization of the use of GEC
  • Lack of time to implement and replicate it
  • Complexity of the tool
  • Difficulties in data gathering

Way forward

Some of the suggested step forwards included: revision, clarification, increased access and dissemination and creation of an accessible system of records to further encourage and facilitate the use of the GEC.

  1. Make a distinction between required and flexible criteria within the tool
  2. Improve the Spanish translation (adaptation to the Latin-American context)
  3. Increase adaptability of the tool
  4. Reinforce the link between the tool and rural women’s experience
  5. Support familiarization of government officers and policy makers with the GEC
  6. Broadly disseminate of the tool among CSOs, governments and private sector
  7. Reinforce trainings and peer-to-peer knowledge exchange

Thank you all - although this discussion is officially over, this does not have to be the end of the debate. Keep on sharing your experiences and questions through the Land Portal!

Sabine and Elisabetta

Hello everyone,

Thank you for your participation in this discussion. We have put together a report summarizing the results of the discussion based upon all of your contributions and Sabine and Elisabetta's summaries. You can download the report in the Land Library: 

Best regards,

Neil Sorensen


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