Empowering Women Through Secured Land Rights

Farmer organisations stand up for members developing digital services

Topista Nabudde, a tenant in the Mityana District in Mailo Land, Uganda,
holding her ground rent checks (busuulu)
© Martina Bacigalupo, 2017

The Global Programme Responsible Land Policy seeks to create the conditions for sustainable development and food security through secure and fair land use and land ownership rights as well as responsible land investments. The focus lies on the inclusion of women and marginalised groups.

Challenges for female headed households in rural areas

Women in rural areas tend to be more food insecure than men, facing more constraints and lacking access to essential agricultural services and products whilst carrying the main responsibility for their family and children.

Most of the landowners and land users in countries of the global south only have informal or traditional land use rights, which are often not acknowledged sufficiently by formal authorities. Even though women comprise at least 50 percent of the workforce in small-scale agriculture, they globally hold less than 20 percent of the land titles for their plots, which generally are of smaller size and lower quality.

In the case of formally documented plots, estimates see the share of women’s ownership globally below 15 percent.

Land rights are a key leverage point

The Global Programme Responsible Land Policy considers women’s land rights to be a key determinant to empowering women in rural areas. Land rights have profound implications for the ability of women to actually claim civil and political rights in reality, social and economic rights, as well as to escape poverty and social exclusion.

By empowering women to get equal access to land, the productivity of the agriculture sector can be improved. The Global Programme considers changes such as increased incomes, improved skills and self-confidence as well as documented land-use rights for women as enablers for the promotion of women’s empowerment.

Two women in the process of titling their land in Ambalakida, Madagascar.
© Angelika Jakob, 2018

About the Global Programme Responsible Land Policy

As part of the BMZ Special Initiative ONE WORLD – NO HUNGER, the Global Programme Responsible Land Policy promotes secure and equitable land use and land ownership rights, coupled with responsible land-use practices. In doing so, it intends to establish the necessary conditions for sustainable development and food security.

The three fields of action

  1. Securing land use and land ownership rights for the rural population through improved procedures
  2. Promoting the participation of civil society in the formulation and implementation of responsible land policies
  3. Improving the framework conditions for responsible private agricultural investment

Project facts and figures

  • € 71,2 million budget
  • Total duration 2015-2024
  • Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Laos, Madagascar, Peru, Uganda

The focus of Global Programme is on recognising and strengthening the land rights of marginalised groups, especially women and indigenous communities. In this way, the Global Programme contributes to the achievement of SDG1 and SDG5 in eight countries. Through activities of the Global Programme Responsible Land Policy, 27,968 (34%) of all households with documented land use or land ownership titles in the partner countries were issued in the name of a woman or on both husband and wife – which is then called joint titling. 

Empowering women as part of the approach

The Global Programme Responsible Land Policy has contributed to securing land rights by raising awareness on existing land rights among other family members. This has provided Ugandan widows and their children more security for the future. By establishing contacts with investors, women in Ethiopia have also been given access to agricultural equipment and training, which has increased their agricultural production. In Madagascar, women’s capacities are strengthened through various training courses and jobs for women are created through a recruitment policy favourable to female candidates such as recruitment of male and female enumerators in collaboration with local and communal authorities.

Achieving and measuring women empowerment is however still a challenge the Global Programme Responsible Land Policy wishes to address. Local social norms and the interaction between traditional and state law remain central to this. Moreover, women are more at risk of losing their property titles as a result of Covid-19.

The design and implementation of gender-transformative projects is therefore extremely urgent. Furthermore, it is important that gender-disaggregated data are made available to measure impact. In many countries, however, this is a challenge that must be addressed.

RGIL – A new component co-financed by the European Union

Since November 2019 the Promoting Responsible Governance of Investments in Land Project (RGIL) is part of the Global Programme Responsible Land Policy and strengthens the third field of action with the overall objective of improving the framework for responsible investment in agriculture and forestry in Ethiopia, Uganda and Laos. Here too, one specific focus is set on strengthening the role of women and vulnerable groups concerning their abilities to defend their legitimate rights to land and to advocate for their needs in land investment processes.

More information

On the successful launch of RGIL in Laos https://gizonline.sharepoint.com/sites/beezy/stories/Pages/Stories/wRHiIJ3NJ15rEGBGBVWRw/e0cdb912-38c4-4461-939c-5f84ed975687.aspx

Link to IDA website (GIZ internal only)


Annette Schramm, Junior Advisor, annette.schramm@giz.de
Author: Lisa Bosotti, Intern, lisa.bosotti@giz.de