Women's property rights

Last updated

Women's property rights are property and inheritance rights enjoyed by women as a category within society at any point in time. The patterns and rights of property ownership vary between societies and are influenced by cultural, racial, political, and legal factors. [1] [2] [3] The lack of control over both productive and non-productive resources that is apparent in both rural and urban settings places women at a reduced level of advantage in areas of security of home, maintaining a basis for survival, and accessing economic opportunities. [4] [5] Development-related problems faced across the globe have been increasingly linked to women's lack of property and inheritance rights, especially in regard to land and property ownership, encompassing areas such as low levels of education, hunger, and poor health. [6] Thus land property rights, through their impact on patterns of production, distribution of wealth, as well as market development, has evolved as one of the prerequisites of economic growth and poverty reduction. [7]

Contents

Defining land rights

Property rights are claims to property that are legally and socially recognized and enforceable by external legitimized authority. [8] Broadly defined, land rights can be understood as a variety of legitimate claims to land and the benefits and products produced on that land. [9] Inheritance, transfers from the State, tenancy arrangements, and land purchase are all constructs of land rights. [10] These rights can be in the form of actual ownership or usufruct, the rights of use.

Global overview

Women play an integral part in the production of food and goods, from work in fields, factories, and home-based business across the globe. [11] There is a critical relationship in the role that women play and the sustenance provided for families, communities, and nations. [11] Globally, an estimated 41% of women headed households live below the locally defined poverty line, with one-third of the world's women either homeless or living in inadequate housing facilities. [12] The additional exclusion of women from access to land pushes them towards cities, where they often join the ranks of increasing number of women-headed households in slum areas. [12] However, through the processes of globalization and industrialization, there has been a noted increase in the numbers of women entering in the waged labor sectors. [13] Rural women are solely responsible for half of the world's food production, and in developing countries, as much as 80% of food crops. [14] More recent estimates claim that half of the world's food and in developing countries, between 60-80% of food crops are the results of growth from seeds that have been planted by a woman's hand. [15] This persistence of traditional divisions of labor, in which women hold primary responsibility for producing food, as well as other labor-intensive tasks such as gather water and fuel, contributes to the large percentage of women informally working in rural areas. [16] The roles that women play differ significantly by region, with an average of 43% of the agricultural labor force in developing countries, ranging from 20% in Latin America to 50% in Eastern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. [16] Thus, in addition to increasing vulnerability and reducing status, exclusion of women from the decision making process and the control and transfer of land has also led to a decrease in food security and sustainable development. [8]

Shifting systems

Though women's lack of formal control over land and resources has long persisting historical roots, economies and societies undergoing extensive change have created deep implications for ownership rights. [17] In subsistence production systems, access to land was determined by status within the family rather than actual ownership rights; resulting in both men and women having “user rights” to produce food for their families. The combined processes of industrialization and globalization have disrupted longstanding livelihoods and systems of production, forcing many families to focus more on income-generating activities than on subsistence practices. [6] However, increasing women's access to property rights has numerous significant economic benefits for the overall community as well as psychological and social benefits for the lives of women, themselves, especially in agricultural societies. Economically, when women have greater access to land-ownership in rural areas, which started being implemented by the government following the 20th century mandates on property laws in order to ultimately promote greater gender equality, women begin to independently cultivate their own land (given to them either by the state itself, allocated otherwise through the private market, or passed on by a male relative), form women collectives to learn more about agricultural practices as well as profit-generating skills and ultimately, have yielded more output from that given land than the previous owners. [18] Further, the psychological benefits from increasing women's access to property rights is that this leads to a significant decrease in instances of marital domestic violence. [19] All of these factors would contribute positively to the economic growth of that given community in the long-term by experiencing greater overall labor force participation rates, increased income generation and greater investment in child healthcare and education, also thereby combating malnutrition and breaking out of the poverty cycle. [20]

Impact of gender bias

The typical process of agrarian transformation under which labor shifts from agriculture to nonagricultural has occurred slowly and with heavy gender-bias. [8] Because women's property rights are often assumed through the security of the oftentimes, male, household head, some inheritance laws allocate less property to female heirs than male heirs. [21] Ongoing adherence to male-dominated traditions of property ownership has generally meant that women cannot take advantage of the wide range of benefits associated with ownership and control of property. [5] According to the Land Tenure Service at FAO, poverty is inversely correlated with household land ownership and direct access to land minimizes women's risk of impoverishment and improvements the physical well-being and prospects for children. [22]

Land titles

The process of titling has been administered with strong gender bias, with women usually denied equal ownership rights. [6] Furthermore, property and inheritance claims are generally processed through loosely organized administrative bodies consisting of local leaders and clerks with limited legal training. Closer inspection of the decision makers, notes a body of mostly males. [6]

Patriarchal property rights

Women who are potentially able to meet their subsistence needs on their own may threaten to leave the household if they are not given a large share of the surplus. [23] However, due to patriarchal property rights, husbands control over the allocation of wives’ labor time, husbands can make decisions that reduce the value of their wives’ alternatives to marriage. [23] Both the right to manage land and control the income from production, encompassing secure rights to land access, have much deeper implications than mere access. For many women, access to land and property are essential to the production of food as well as sustainable livelihoods, but are dependent on natal and marital affiliations. In many countries, women can lose rights to land when there is a change in marital status, including marriage, divorce, or even death of a spouse. [24]

Male dominance

Because of the worldwide prevalence of patrilineal inheritance customs, both productive resources and property such as household goods have ended up in the hands of men and not women. When only men have rights of inheritance or family succession, women have little opportunity to improve their status or living conditions within the family and community. Consequently, they are rendered dependent on male relatives for survival and have little say over how property is used to generate income or to support families. Additionally, within patrilineal communities, there is a strong resistance by men towards endowing women, especially daughters, with rights to land access. [2]

Barriers to change status

Inadequate laws and systems of enforcement

While there are a growing number of contemporary laws, as framed by the modern State, which give inheritance rights to daughters when they are recognized as individuals among the communities, the process of marriage and the traditionally patrilineal customs have remained largely unchanged. [2] Thus, there remains a mismatch between marriage practices and inheritance laws, with the strength and biases of the marriage practice often overriding inheritance laws. This is also evidenced in the process of dowry practices. In many cultures, a daughter's dowry is viewed by her family as her direct portion of her inheritance, even though it may be typically absorbed by the new husband and his family. Thus, while in some communities women do have the formal rights to inherit lands, the social representation of inheritance in the form of dowries and the strength of the practice of marriage trump given laws. [24]

Levels of education, oftentimes products of restrictions on women's interaction with institutions which are primarily composed of men, create a mystique and illusion about legal actions. [25] Additionally, ideologies about the conduct that a woman displays, normally taking the form of docility, can bring shame to the idea of challenging persisting gender inequalities in law, policy and land rights. [26]

Prevalence of traditional attitudes and practices

Gender ideologies, or beliefs and stereotypes of the expected characteristics of a particular gender, provide a barrier for women to gain property rights and enhance status. [2] These ideologies may take the form of assumptions of the role that a woman plays in society, her needs or capabilities, which thus affect the way that an issue is framed and implemented.

See also

Related Research Articles

Economy of Guatemala economy of the country

The economy of Guatemala is a less-developed economy that is dependent on traditional crops such as coffee, sugar, and bananas. Guatemala's GDP per capita is roughly one-third of Brazil's. The 1996 peace accords ended 36 years of civil war and removed a major obstacle to foreign investment. Since then Guatemala has pursued important reforms and macroeconomic stabilization. On 1 July 2006, the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) entered into force between the US and Guatemala and has since spurred increased investment in the export sector. The distribution of income remains highly unequal, with 12% of the population living below the international poverty line. Guatemala's large expatriate community in the United States, has made it the top remittance recipient in Central America. These inflows are a primary source of foreign income, equivalent to nearly two-thirds of exports.

Feminist economics critical gender-aware branch of economics

Feminist economics is the critical study of economics and economies, with a focus on gender-aware and inclusive economic inquiry and policy analysis. Feminist economic researchers include academics, activists, policy theorists, and practitioners. Much feminist economic research focuses on topics that have been neglected in the field, such as care work, intimate partner violence, or on economic theories which could be improved through better incorporation of gendered effects and interactions, such as between paid and unpaid sectors of economies. Other feminist scholars have engaged in new forms of data collection and measurement such as the Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM), and more gender-aware theories such as the capabilities approach. Feminist economics is oriented towards the goal of "enhancing the well-being of children, women, and men in local, national, and transnational communities."

Land reform changes to land ownership

Land reform involves the changing of laws, regulations or customs regarding land ownership. Land reform may consist of a government-initiated or government-backed property redistribution, generally of agricultural land. Land reform can, therefore, refer to transfer of ownership from the more powerful to the less powerful, such as from a relatively small number of wealthy owners with extensive land holdings to individual ownership by those who work the land. Such transfers of ownership may be with or without compensation; compensation may vary from token amounts to the full value of the land.

Land law is the form of law that deals with the rights to use, alienate, or exclude others from land. In many jurisdictions, these kinds of property are referred to as real estate or real property, as distinct from personal property. Land use agreements, including renting, are an important intersection of property and contract law. Encumbrance on the land rights of one, such as an easement, may constitute the land rights of another. Mineral rights and water rights are closely linked, and often interrelated concepts.

In the early 1960s, an interest in women and their connection with the environment was sparked, largely by a book written by Esther Boserup entitled Woman's Role in Economic Development. Starting in the 1980s, policy makers and governments became more mindful of the connection between the environment and gender issues. Changes began to be made regarding natural resource and environmental management with the specific role of women in mind. According to the World Bank in 1991, "Women play an essential role in the management of natural resources, including soil, water, forests and energy...and often have a profound traditional and contemporary knowledge of the natural world around them". Whereas women were previously neglected or ignored, there was increasing attention paid to the impact of women on the natural environment and, in return, the effects the environment has on the health and well-being of women. The gender-environment relations have valuable ramifications in regard to the understanding of nature between men and women, the management and distribution of resources and responsibilities and the day-to-day life and well being of people.

Bina Agarwal Indian development economist

Bina Agarwal is an Indian development economist and Professor of Development Economics and Environment at the Global Development Institute at The University of Manchester. She has written extensively on land, livelihoods and property rights; environment and development; the political economy of gender; poverty and inequality; legal change; and agriculture and technological transformation. Among her best known works is the award-winning book—A Field of One's Own: Gender and Land Rights in South Asia—which has had a significant impact on governments, NGOs, and international agencies in promoting women's rights in land and property. This work has also inspired research in Latin America and globally.

Women in China

The lives of women in China have significantly changed throughout reforms in the late Qing Dynasty, the Republican period, the Chinese Civil War, and rise of the People's Republic of China, which had announced publicly on the commitment toward gender equality. Efforts the new Communist government made toward gender equality were met with resistance in the historically male-dominated Chinese society, and obstacles continue to stand in the way of women seeking to gain greater equality in China.

Women in Uganda

Similarly to the majority of countries around the world, the traditional gender roles of women in Uganda are often considered subordinate to those of men. However, women in Uganda have substantial economic and social responsibilities throughout Uganda's many traditional societies. Ugandan women come from a range of economic and educational backgrounds. Despite economic and social change throughout the country, domestic violence and sexual assault remain prevalent issues in Uganda. These issues plague women all around the world and do not discriminate on the basis of race or class. However, poverty is correlated with an influx of domestic violence. Government reports suggest rising levels of domestic violence toward women that are directly attributable to poverty.

Domestic violence in Chile is a prevalent problem as of 2004. Domestic violence describes violence by an intimate partner or other family members, regardless of the place the violence occurs.

Gender roles in agriculture are a frequent subject of study by sociologists and farm economists. Historians also study them, as they are important in understanding the social structure of agrarian, and even industrial, societies. Agriculture provides lots of job opportunities and livelihoods around the world. It can also reflect gender inequality and uneven distribution of resources and privileges among gender. According to the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, women usually have a harder time obtaining land, tools and knowledge than men, especially in developing countries. Several organizations such as Food and Agriculture Organization and independent research have indicated that increasing gender corporation can bring more profits and food security for the community.

Rural poverty refers to poverty in rural areas, including factors of rural society, rural economy, and political systems that give rise to the poverty found there. Rural poverty is often discussed in conjunction with spatial inequality, which in this context refers to the inequality between urban and rural areas. Both rural poverty and spatial inequality are global phenomena, but like poverty in general, there are higher rates of rural poverty in developing countries than in developed countries. Eradicating rural poverty through effective policies and economic growth remains a challenge for the international community.

Intra-household bargaining refers to negotiations that occur between members of a household in order to arrive at decisions regarding the household unit, like whether to spend or save, whether to study or work.

Womens rights in Brazil

Women's societal roles in Brazil have been heavily impacted by the patriarchal traditions of Iberian culture, which holds women subordinate to men in familial and community relationships. The Iberian Peninsula, which is made up of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, has traditionally been the cultural and military frontier between Christianity and Islam, developing a strong tradition for military conquest and male dominance. Patriarchal traditions were readily transferred from the Iberian Peninsula to Latin America through the encomienda system that fostered economic dependence among women and indigenous peoples in Brazil. As the largest Roman Catholic nation in the world, religion has also had a significant impact on the perception of women in Brazil, though over the past century the Brazilian government has increasingly broken with the Catholic Church in regard to issues related to reproductive rights.

In feminist economics, the feminization of agriculture refers to the measurable increase of women's participation in the agricultural sector, particularly in the developing world. The phenomenon started during the 1960s with increasing shares over time. In the 1990s, during liberalization, the phenomenon became more pronounced and negative effects appeared in the rural female population. Afterwards, agricultural markets became gendered institutions, affecting men and women differently. In 2009 World Bank, FAO & IFAD found that over 80 per cent of rural smallholder farmers worldwide were women, this was caused by men migrating to find work in other sectors. Out of all the women in the labor sector, the UN found 45-80% of them to be working in agriculture

Landesa Rural Development Institute is a nonprofit organization that partners with governments and local organizations to secure legal land rights for the world's poorest families. Since 1967, Landesa has helped more than 180 million poor families in 50 countries gain legal control over their land. When families have secure rights to land, they can invest in their land to sustainably increase their harvests and reap the benefits—improved nutrition, health, education, and dignity.

Gender and food security

Gender inequality both leads to and is a result of food insecurity. According to estimates women and girls make up 60% of the world's chronically hungry and little progress has been made in ensuring the equal right to food for women enshrined in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Women face discrimination both in education and employment opportunities and within the household, where their bargaining power is lower. On the other hand, gender equality is described as instrumental to ending malnutrition and hunger. Women tend to be responsible for food preparation and childcare within the family and are more likely to be spent their income on food and their children's needs. The gendered aspects of food security are visible along the four pillars of food security: availability, access, utilization and stability, as defined by the Food and Agriculture Organization.

Women in agriculture in India

India has a national tradition bound to agriculture fertility. In the North, the Indus valley and Brahmaputra region are critical agricultural areas graced by the Ganges and monsoon season. Based on 2011 World Bank data, only 17.5% of India's gross domestic product (GDP) is accounted for by agricultural production. Yet for a majority of the country, an estimated 72% of the 1.1 billion people who live in rural India, it is a way of life.

Women in Africa

Women in Africa are women who were born, live, and are from the continent of Africa. The culture, evolution and history of African women reflect the evolution and history of the African continent itself.

Matrilineal society of Meghalaya Migration flow in Meghalaya

Multiple tribes in the state of Meghalaya in northeast India practise matrilineal descent. Often referred to as Khasi people and Garo people, among the Khasi people which is a term used as a blanket term for various subgroups in Meghalaya who have distinguishing languages, rites, ceremonies, and habits, but share an ethnic identity as Ki Hynniew Trep whereas the Garo people refers to the various groups of Achik people. The Khasi, Garo, and other subgroups have a proud heritage, including matrilineality, although it was reported in 2004 that they were losing some of their matrilineal traits. The tribes are said to belong to one of the "largest surviving matrilineal culture[s]" in the world.

Women in agriculture in China

Women in agriculture in China make up a diverse group of women who support agricultural activities in their country. Because China is a large country, rural women should not be considered a monolithic group, but instead have different strategies for success based on group or family relationships.

References

  1. Meinzen-Dick, Ruth S.; Brown, Lynn R.; Sims Feldstein, Hilary; Quisumbing, Agnes R. (August 1997). "Gender, property rights, and natural resources". World Development. 25 (8): 1303–1315. CiteSeerX   10.1.1.58.6136 . doi:10.1016/S0305-750X(97)00027-2.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Agarwal, Bina (October 1994). "Gender and command over property: a critical gap in economic analysis and policy in South Asia". World Development. 22 (10): 1455–1478. CiteSeerX   10.1.1.472.6354 . doi:10.1080/135457097338799.
  3. Deere, Carmen Diana; Doss, Cheryl R. (2008), "Gender and the distribution of wealth in developing countries", in Davies, James B. (ed.), Personal wealth from a global perspective, Oxford New York: Oxford University Press (UNU-WIDER), pp. 353–372, ISBN   9780199548897
  4. Agarwal, Bina; Agarwal, Bina (May 2005). "Marital violence, human development and women's property status in India". World Development. 33 (5): 823–850. doi:10.1016/j.worlddev.2005.01.009.
  5. 1 2 Steinzor, Nadia (March 2003). "Women's property and inheritance rights: improving lives in changing times - final synthesis and conference proceedings paper" (PDF). US Agency for International Development (USAID), NGO Small Grants Program's "Conference on Women's Property and Inheritance Rights" 18–21 June 2002. Nairobi, Kenya: Development Alternatives, Inc: A Women in Development Technical Assistance Project, Office of Women in Development, (USAID). Retrieved 5 June 2014.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Grown, Caren; Gupta, Geeta Rao; Kes, Aslihan (2005). Taking action achieving gender equality and empowering women (Task Force on Education and Gender Equality) . London Sterling, Va: Earthscan. ISBN   978-1844072224.
  7. Besley, Timothy; Ghatak, Maitreesh (2010). "Property rights and economic development". Handbook of Development Economics (World Development). 5 (Chapter 68): 4525–4595. CiteSeerX   10.1.1.178.755 . doi:10.1016/B978-0-444-52944-2.00006-9.
  8. 1 2 3 Agarwal, Bina (2002). "Are we not peasants too? Land rights and women's claims in India" (Pamphlet). SEEDS Pamphlet Series. 21.
  9. Schlager, Edella; Ostrom, Elinor (August 1992). "Property-rights regimes and natural resources: a conceptual analysis". Land Economics. 68 (3): 249–262. CiteSeerX   10.1.1.422.8178 . doi:10.2307/3146375. JSTOR   3146375.
  10. Allendorf, Keera (November 2007). "Do women's land rights promote empowerment and child health in Nepal?". World Development. 35 (11): 1975–1988. doi:10.1016/j.worlddev.2006.12.005. PMC   3657746 . PMID   23700354.
  11. 1 2 Kevane, Michael; Gray, Leslie C. (1999). "A woman's field is made at night: gendered land rights and norms in Burkina Faso". Feminist Economics. 5 (3): 1–26. CiteSeerX   10.1.1.194.4747 . doi:10.1080/135457099337789.
  12. 1 2 Benschop, Marjolein (22 April 2004), "Women's rights to land and property", in UN-HABITAT (ed.), Women in human settlements development - challenges and opportunities, New York: Commission on Sustainable Development, pp. 126–128
  13. "The World's Women reports - World's Women 2000: Chapter 5 - Work". United Nations Statistics Division. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  14. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (1997). Women and Food Security. FAO FOCUS.
  15. Gupta, Geeta Rao (14 October 2009). "Guest column: when women farm, crops and economies grow". Truth about trade and technology. Retrieved 5 June 2014.
  16. 1 2 Raney, Terri (2011), "The State of Food and Agriculture 2010-11" (PDF), Women in Agriculture: Closing the gender gap for development (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, New YorkMissing or empty |title= (help)
  17. Lastarria-Cornhiel, Susana (April 2005), "Gender and Property Rights Within Postconflict Situations - issue paper no. 12 (PN-ADB-672)" (PDF), United States Agency International Development (USAID) Development Experience Clearinghouse (DEC), New YorkMissing or empty |title= (help)
  18. Agarwal, Bina (2005). "Marital Violence, Human Development and Women's Property Status in India" (PDF). World Development. 33 (5): 823–850. doi:10.1016/j.worlddev.2005.01.009 via Bina Agarwal.
  19. Agarwal, Bina (2005). "Marital Violence, Human Development and Women's Property Status in India" (PDF). World Development. 33 (5): 823–850. doi:10.1016/j.worlddev.2005.01.009 via Bina Agarwal.
  20. Quisumbing, Agnes E. (1999). "Intrahousehold Allocation and Gender Relations: New Empirical Evidence" (PDF). The World Bank. Working paper series, no. 2: 1–66 via The World Bank Development Research Group.
  21. Blau, Francine D; Ferber, Marianne A; Winkler, Anne E (1998). The economics of women, men, and work (third ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. ISBN   9780135659793.
  22. Crowley, Eve (August 2001), "Land rights (policy brief 2 of 12)", in Quisumbing, Agnes R.; Meinzen-Dick, Ruth S. (eds.), Empowering women to achieve food security (Focus 6), International Food Policy Research Institute - A 2020 Vision for Food, Agriculture, and the Environment, pp. 3–4
  23. 1 2 Braunstein, Elissa; Folbre, Nancy (2001). "To honor and obey: efficiency, inequality, and patriarchal property rights". Feminist Economics. 7 (1): 25–44. doi:10.1080/713767276.
  24. 1 2 Giovarelli, Renee; Wamalwa, Beatrice (2011). Land tenure, property rights, and gender: Challenges and approaches for strengthening women's land tenure and property rights (USAID Issue Brief - Property rights and resource governance briefing paper #7). New York: United States Agency International Development (USAID). Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  25. Agarwal, Bina (January 2003). "Gender and land rights revisited: exploring new prospects via the state, family and market". Journal of Agrarian Change. 3 (1–2): 184–224. doi:10.1111/1471-0366.00054.
  26. McCreery, John L. (April 1976). "Women's property rights and Dowry in China and South Asia". Ethnology. 15 (2): 163–174. doi:10.2307/3773327. JSTOR   3773327.