v16_2005h - Engendering Property Rights: Womens Insecure...

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145 Engendering Property Rights : Women’s Insecure Land Tenure and Its Implications for Development Policy in Kenya and Uganda 7 7 Kanika Mak is a Master of Arts candidate in International Relations at the Yale Center for International and Area Studies, Yale University ([email protected]). E N GENDER ING P ROPERTY R IGHTS : W OMEN S I NSECURE L AND T ENURE AND I TS I MPLICATIONS FOR D EVELOPMENT P OLICY IN K ENYA AND U GANDA Kanika Mak The importance of women’s contributions to the predominantly agrarian societies of Kenya and Uganda contrasts sharply with the inequity and insecurity these women face in their ability to own, inherit, manage, and dispose of land and property. This paper examines how gender equality in the design and implementation of property rights in East Africa can promote development as well as enhance the status of women in patriarchal societies. Women’s insecure land tenure stems speciFcally from deFciencies in the constitutional order, institutional arrange- ments, and social norms that govern property rights systems. Accordingly, recommendations for reform in these three areas share the ultimate goal of making property rights systems not only more equitable, but also more effective. I NTRODUCTION In Uganda and Kenya, as throughout sub-Saharan Africa, the agricultural sector is the most important source of income and livelihood for the coun- tries’ predominantly rural populations. In Uganda, agriculture contributes 43 percent of gross domestic product, 85 percent of export earnings, and 80 percent of employment; in Kenya, the Fgures are similar (Bosworth 2002, 9). Because of the signiFcance of agriculture to rural livelihoods,
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146 Kanika Mak land is the most important asset for many households in these two coun- tries. With the aid of international donors and the World Bank, since the 1970s governments in East Africa have enacted policies that emphasize the development of effective land rights systems. 1 The underlying premise of these reforms is that the establishment of a formal property rights system fosters economic growth and improves welfare. Gender inequities in law and in practice, however, have chal- lenged land reform initiatives. For example, in Kenya, women constitute 80 percent of the agricultural labor force yet own only 5 percent of the land (Human Rights Watch 2003a, 16). Drawing primarily upon current research from the World Bank and regional development organizations, this paper examines how ensuring gender equality in the establishment and implementation of property rights in Kenya and Uganda can promote growth, development, and human rights. The ±rst section outlines the important relationship between property rights, development, and gender equality. The second part examines the status of women in Kenya and Uganda, focusing speci±cally on each country’s constitutional order, institutional arrangements, and social norms. The ±nal section contains recommendations on areas where further action
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course POLS 494 taught by Professor Garymoncrief during the Fall '11 term at Boise State.

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v16_2005h - Engendering Property Rights: Womens Insecure...

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