17 Jun 2014
Patrick Keuleers, Director a.i., Democratic Governance Group
Access to land for women is a key development issue. Photo: Prashanth Vishwanathan/ UNDP India
Although more than 115 nations recognize, in their legal frameworks, women’s equal rights to property and inheritance, in many countries women continue to face discrimination when it comes to land and property rights,
Land plays a critical economic, environmental, social, cultural and political role in the development of states and people. Control of land and related natural resources is linked to power and identity, and can be a source of conflict and crisis. Land and natural resource management also lie at the core of ensuring environmental sustainability, including the maintenance of ecosystems and biodiversity. For indigenous and tribal communities, access to land and the protection of their traditional tenure practices are critical to their existence and identity. Failed land policies can also cause massive migration of workers from rural to urban areas.
Having access to land and security of tenure provides a gateway to a range of economic, social, civil and political rights. Hence, when people, in particular indigenous communities, women, the rural poor or urban slum dwellers achieve secure access to land or property, they can start to enjoy a greater sense of economic security, improve their livelihoods, but importantly also, gain capacity, interest and influence in decision-making.
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