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close this bookToward Gender Equality: The Role of Public Policy (WB, 1995, 88 p.)
close this folderChapter two
View the documentGender Inequalities Hamper Growth
View the documentHousehold and Intrahousehold Resource Allocation
View the documentLinkages between Education Health, and Nutritious
View the documentHousehold and Labor Market Linkages
View the documentFormal Sector Employment
View the documentInformal Sector
View the documentAccess to Financial Markets
View the documentAccess to Lund and Property
View the documentAccess to Extension Services
View the documentConclusion

Access to Lund and Property

The ownership of land and the distributions of land rights influence the productivity of labor and capital resources and the incentive to invest in resource management Private property rights. in particular. are associated with increased access to product and factor markets. especially credit markets. and to public services such as public utilities and agricultural extension. However. relatively little direct evidence exists to link independent owner of land by women with increased access and productivity. One obstacle to empirical work is that women s access to land and property is often mediated trough marriage (A married woman land rights are frequently limited to use rather than ownership.) Future more. complex systems of land tenure make it difficult to generalize about the effects of owner ship on productivity. None some evidence suggests that independent land rights for women could enhance both the efficiency with which resources are used and the well-being of women and their households: (Agarwal 1994).

The possibility of receiving credit may give e women greater bargaining power within the household which can be used to improve child health and nutrition.

While independent land rights may increase efficiency and household welfare, lack of secure land appears to be associated with low investments by women in land conservation. In Zimbabwe's communal areas, land that a women acquires is often allocated to her only temporarily: for example, the location of land allotment received from husbands or borrowed from neighbors is usually subject to periodic change (Jackson 1993). The same is true in parts of West Africa (David 1992 Jackson 1994). Uncertainly about the permanence of their control over the land means that women may be reluctant to invest in improvements that will benefit the landowner rather than the user.

A significant trend in recent decades in developing countries has been the move toward private ownership In some countries this trend has been encoulagecl by reforms dealing with land redistribution tenancy or land titling Such reforms are considered important for promoting long-term investments and the adoption of the latest technology They also provide the collateral people need to gain access to credit and other factor markets Ironically, evidence also suggests that perform inequalities in male and female land rights are reinforced by land reform programs For example, in Latin America most reforms are based on the premise that the man of the household its the household head. This presumption means that women (except for widows and ownership. Even where women and men benefit equally from land reform differences exist between nominal and real land rights (see box 2.3).

In the central part of European Russia and in Moldova the lands and assets of state and collective farms are being parceled out in allotments as part of wider economic reforms. Every person who lived and worked on a collective farm receives a share of the land Data show that although on average, women have received a slightly higher proportion of land shares than men, the nonland capital assets of the old farms ale being distributed as property shares on the basis of a formula heavily weighted toward an individual's wage rate and years of employment. Such criteria favor men over women and give men more valuable property chares. Dividends paid on these property shares also tend to be higher than those paid 011 land shares Holt 1995).

Land reform programs that fail to account for gender differences in rights

Box 2.3 who gets access to land? Honduras and Cameroon

Honduras' Agrarian Modernization Law of 1974 includes a provision giving men age 16 or older the right to access to land, independent of any other qualification. For women. however, this right is restricted to unmarried mothers or widows with dependent children. Furthermore. if a male beneficiary dies or becomes incapacitated. the law gives preference in inheritance rights to a male child over the child's legally married mother. Some 30 percent of rural Honduran households are headed by women at least part time because of the seasonal migration of men to look for work (Saito and Spurling 1992).

In the northwest and southwest provinces of Cameroon. an estimated 50 percent or more of those who claimed land within the first ten years of land registration (1974-85) were classified as public servants. Over 32 percent of all the remaining land titles went to businesses.

Women make up more than 51 percent of Cameroon s population and do more than 75 percent of the agricultural work. but they are virtually absent from land registers. Only 3.2 percent of all land titles issued in the Northwest Province were given to women; in the Southwest Province the figure was 7.2 percent. For the country as a whole. it is estimated that women obtained under 10 percent of all land certificates (World Bank 1995a). to own. use, and transfer land may actually exacerbate the insecurity of women's land claims and. as a result, harm household welfare. For example, there is evidence that land titling focused on male household heads has adversely affected women's ability to farm independently. Moreover. intrahousehold inequalities in income and decisionmaking have increased (FAO 1993) In Africa some titling programs have allowed men to take advantage of their control over land to redesignate land formerly cultivated by women as household land. This switch provided the opportunity for men to increase the amount of work they expect from women on household plots. In other cases women have received smaller and less fertile plots than they had before for their personal crops (FAO 1993).

Recognizing women's independent claims to land is therefore an important issue in property reform. In poor households. having rights to land could alleviate both women's own poverty and the household's risk of remaining poor. The season is mainly that women s access to economic resources has a positive effect on household welfare (Agarwal 1994). From the point of view of efficiency, secret land tenure increases the incentive to manage resources efficiently and expands access to formal credit markets. Because secure land tenure can mean greater productivity, it may also increase the household's incentives to invest in women's human capital.