Concepts, Research, Policy
Edited by Sylvia Chant
Chapter 55: Power, Patriarchy and Land: Examining Women’s Land Rights in Uganda and Rwanda
Kate Bird and Jessica Espey Introduction This chapter seeks to shed light upon the complex structural inequalities that pervade an important aspect of social and economic institutions and practices across much of Africa. It explores land rights and inheritance practices in Rwanda and Uganda and demonstrates that the persistent gender inequality and discrimination found in these norms and practices are both underpinned by deep-seated power asymmetries and serve to reinforce them. Despite considerable legislative achievements in women’s rights and in addressing gendered inequalities across East Africa, taking a closer lens to the household and extended family management of assets (and the way in which de jure and de facto inheritance rights play out at the local level) reveals the extent to which gendered discrimination remains a potent reality for many women, with major economic, social and political outcomes. The persistence of intrahousehold inequality relates strongly to women’s differential access to and control of productive assets, including land (see Deere, Chapter 53, this volume). The weak articulation of women’s rights in this area arguably results in part from what we might term ‘fracture points’ in the policy process. The first fracture point relates to there being limited relevant evidence for policymakers. This owes to a common tendency among (non-feminist) social scientists to shy away from intrahousehold analysis. Many regard the household as the most basic (and inherently equitable) social unit and neither collect or analyse finer-resolution data. This results in a considerable blindspot in policy formation and in efforts to ensure...
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