Closing the gender gap in agriculture is not an easy task, but progress can be made and simple interventions can sometimes be very powerful. Carefully designed policies, strategies and projects can work within existing cultural norms, through the public and private sectors, in ways that benefit both women and men.
Speciic recommendations for closing the gender gap in access to land, rural labour markets, inancial services, social capital and technology include the steps outlined below.Closing the gap in access to landGovernments have long recognized the importance of secure land tenure in promoting equitable, sustainable agricultural development. Women have not always beneited from general land distribution and titling efforts, however, and in some cases have seen their customary rights eroded as formal rights have been extended to male heads of household. Many governments have attempted to strengthen women’s tenure rights within marriage and as individuals, but these efforts are often frustrated by a combination of legal and cultural practices that still favors men. In Latin America, for example, inheritance is the most frequent source of transfer of ownership of land, but daughters are much ess likely than sons to inherit land. Many countries in the region have instituted legal reforms that have strengthened married women’s land rights, but land-titling efforts have not always facilitated the practice of including both husbands’ and wives’ names. In Asia, women typically have legal rights to land ownership, but often struggle to assert them. In the parts of sub-Saharan Africa where customary property regimes prevail, community leaders tend to favour males over females in the allocation of land, both in terms of quantity and quality. Where private property prevails, cultural norms generally dictate that men own and inherit land while women gain access to land through their relationship with a male relative. Eliminate discrimination under the law Where statutory legal rights to land remain gender-biased, a key strategy is to review and reform all national legislation that relates to land and natural resources. Although land laws are the starting point, related legislation should also be considered. Family and marriage laws, inheritance provisions and housing law are all important legal areas that play a supporting role in ensuring equitable treatment of men and women in control over land.recognize the importance and power of customary land rightsMany countries have extended formal legal rights to women over land inheritance and ownership, but customary practices – and the inability of many women to assert their legal rights – mean that formal legal provisions are often not followed. In many countries, tradition is stronger than law when it comes to land issues. Opposition from land reform authorities, peasant unions, village authorities and male household heads can frustrate land reform efforts to extend legal land rights to both single and married women. Legal rights are difficult to enforce if they are not seen as legitimate; thus recognizing customary land rights and working with community leaders is essential to ensure that women ‘rights are protected. Indeed, strengthening traditional use-rightsfor widows and divorced women may provide more secure tenure for them even in cases where there is resistance to full ownership.