What Works for Women? | Land Portal

Considering that land tenure security is crucial to better outcomes for women it is a surprise that there is not more evidence out there on what works to achieve it.

That is why we launched the Research Consortium: to start to bridge that gap by supporting new research on what works to improve women’s lives through more secure land rights – and what doesn’t. Our goal is to help practitioners, advocates, and policy-makers make evidence-based decisions in programs of reform on land, and to encourage researchers to ask questions that will be relevant in shaping global practice and policy.

We’re excited to share with you the findings on three new publications, created with support from the Research Consortium, that explore systematic titling and registration programming and the impact on women; whether being named on a customary certificate of ownership improves tenure security for women; and a comparison of forest tenure reforms across three countries.

Protecting Land Tenure Security of Women in Ethiopia: Evidence from the Land Investment for Transformation Program (LIFT)

This report from Ethiopia looked at research from a systematic titling and registration program which assesses data from 7.1 million parcels across four regional states. It found that a female name appears on 77% of certificates for parcels (ranging from 69% in Tigray to 80% in Amhara), on 55% of certificates for parcels where a woman’s name appears jointly with a man’s, and for 22% of parcels a female name appears on its own. It also found that there was no statistically significant difference in mean parcel size between women and men. The project under study employed processes that were sensitive to the different needs of women from men, and also of the different needs of women in different social situations (e.g., women in male headed households, women in female headed households, women in polygamous relationships, and widows). Referring to the Women’s Land Rights Conceptual Framework, the report concludes that when using the certificate as a proxy for the completeness of the bundle of rights, women with certificates have more complete rights at the conclusion of the project, and that their rights are more robust. Access the full paper on LandWise.

Do Certificates of Customary Ownership as Currently Issues and Delivered Translate into More Secure Land Rights for Women and Men Involved: A Case Study of Nwoya Using Data Collected by the Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development 

The report from Uganda concludes that understanding the contours of the existing tenure system is critical to being able to assess whether an intervention has improved the completeness of women’s rights to land. The research used existing data collected in Nwoya in Northern Uganda where land is held under collective, customary tenure, but is allocated to individual households, and where certificates of customary ownership have been issued by an NGO, and validated by the area land committee. Also employing the Conceptual Framework, the report finds that for women, being named on a Certificates of Customary Ownership alongside men has not resulted in more complete rights. It explains this as perhaps a problem of concepts: the kinds of questions that were asked in the survey to get to completeness were not well aligned with the way that customary tenure is managed in the Nwoya, and suggests that future data collection on these questions should be based on a thorough understanding of the customary tenure system. Read more about the outcomes here.

Mobilizing Change for Women Within Collective Tenure Regimes

This report draws from large amounts of quantitative and qualitative data assessing different kinds of forestland tenure reforms in Indonesia, Peru, and Uganda. It looks primarily at questions of women’s experience with and perceptions of different aspects of forest governance. The report does not conclude that any one kind of reform is better or worse for women. However, it notes that across all reforms, women are not often considered full members with equal decision-making power in forest governance. Communal governance structures may also be composed only of men, or leadership positions may only be held by men; so, even in cases when women are part of communal assemblies, men continue to hold the authority, and views of women around forests and rules are rarely captured. It also found that the lack of specific provisions that target women, including guidelines on how these groups should be informed and convened, risks perpetuating internal social differentiation, with direct impact on outcomes for women’s tenure security and livelihoods. Read the full paper here.

Despite the variation in findings and themes, these reports all ask, “What works?” for women and land; and we are pleased at the potential for their results to help shift global practice on this question.

To hear more about the research and outcomes, we invite you to participate in our upcoming webinar, The Role of Land Certification in Securing Women’s Land Rights on Collective Lands. To learn more about this event click here.

Continue to watch this space, or sign up for our newsletter, to hear about our next round of grants due for release soon.


This blog was originally published on the Resource Equity website.  

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