Despite increasing evidence that households do not always function as one, policies regarding land and property rights are often formulated at the household level, assuming the primary adult male is the landowner. Because land policy reform has typically focused on changing household, rather than individual, rights to land, many of the data are collected at the household rather than the individual level. As a result of a combination of these factors, securing women’s land rights has remained a largely unaddressed issue by policymakers. So as to inform the formulation of policies and interventions to strengthen women’s land rights, a new discussion paper by Kathryn Sproule, Caitlin Kieran, Agnes Quisumbing, and Cheryl Doss analyzes data from Bangladesh, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam to understand the processes by which men and women acquire land; the social, cultural, and legal institutions surrounding gender and landownership; and the role of individual and household characteristics influencing an individual’s ability to own land.
The authors’ finding that women own less land than do men across different household structures and that intrahousehold gender inequality is higher in households with larger landholdings suggests an agenda for future research and policy that strengthens women’s land rights within marriage, and protects them should the marriage dissolve.
Citation: Sproule, Kathryn; Kieran, Caitlin; Quisumbing, Agnes R.; and Doss, Cheryl. 2015. Gender, headship, and the life cycle: Landownership in four Asian countries. IFPRI Discussion Paper 1481. Washington, D.C.: International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
This work was undertaken as part of PIM's cross-cutting gender research.