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Anatomy of women’s landlessness in the patrilineal customary land tenure systems of sub-Saharan Africa and a policy pathway

Chigbu, Uchendu Eugene
Land use policy 2019 v.86 pp. 126-135
expert opinion, females, governance, land policy, land rights, land tenure, males, neutralization, property rights, women, Sub-Saharan Africa
A typical character of land tenure or property systems in sub-Saharan Africa is that the systems exclude women (implicitly and explicitly). That is why the discourse on women and land tenure remains a burgeoning policy debate in sub-Saharan Africa. This study is relevant for land policy (and land governance) in sub-Saharan Africa because it evokes the minority voices of women in the land and gender discourse in sub-Saharan Africa. The study dissects, anatomically, female landlessness by probing why women still do not enjoy equal land rights today, and what must be done (policy-wise) to unchain women from their state of landlessness. By way of methodology, the study reviews relevant literature on the historical dimension of womenös access to property rights. It is an explorative study based on two e-Focus Group Discussions conducted on two different online platforms to enable the capture of more expert knowledge on the subject of customary land tenure, gender and womenös land rights in (and on) sub-Saharan Africa. The findings exposed three pillars of womenös landlessness in sub-Saharan Africa, including an analysis of the stages of male power that cripple womenös capacity to own or have access to land. The study identified and explained the nature of the contributions of different stages of male powers — including linguistic power, son power, husband power, and father power — to womenös landlessness. It shows how these powers form the elements of male dominance which interact over a life course to cripple womenös physical and psychological strength within their social spaces (which usually results into socio-political and economic disempowerments). As a key output, the study produced a policy pathway to neutralising the pillars of womenös landlessness.