Researchers have found that women are often shortchanged compared to men when communities are compensated or resettled during commercial land deals in Africa.
According to the World Resources Institute’s (WRI) research, men receive up to six times as much for their land and although women usually had smaller land parcels, they also lost access to resources such as rivers, forests and social networks.
The US-based research group have urged governments to apply remedial action to the problem by enacting laws to ensure women receive an equitable share of compensation payments made to households.
“There is usually a power asymmetry between the community and the investor. These deals are presented to the community as almost-done deals with women getting the short-end,” said WRI associate researcher Celine Salcedo-La Vina adding that most of the expected benefits were usually not legally binding.
The research focused on Tanzania and Mozambique, where major commercial deals in agribusiness, tourism and mining have displaced thousands over the last decade.
The World Bank has determined that the land ownership structure in many African countries are disinclined towards women ownership unless they do so through their husbands or by buying it. This is because traditionally, land belongs to the fathers who are supposed to pass it to their sons.
This has created a disincentive towards compensating women for their land because they are not perceived as rightful owners. In addition, WRI also found that most women are known to utilize land for domestic gains for example subsistence farming and other majorly non-commercial purposes while men are mostly given to commercial activity on the land.
Although some African governments, including Tanzania and Mozambique, have enacted some laws to address the inequality that often exists in the engagement between investors and communities, there’s little address to the issue of women compensation and resettlement during land deals.