Decision-making and joint control rights over land in Rwanda

This report explores and analyses community perceptions of the obstacles facing women’s participation in decision-making about jointly held land. It also examines the factors that prevent women from participating in community-level decision-making structures, specifically those related to land. Several factors account for women’s diminished capacity to assert joint-ownership rights. These include the social construction of femininity, which is rooted in ideas of silence and submissiveness, and a policy focus on gender equality when rural lives are experienced in the context of gender complementarity. Another factor hindering women’s decision-making influence is the cultural belief that a “wife comes empty-handed” to her husband’s household and therefore lacks bargaining power. The report also finds that women are held back by a lack of confidence in their capability to participate in significant land-related decisions.

  • Author(s):
    Sarah Mwendwa Mechta
    Ilaria Buscagli
    Denis Bikesha
    Jesse Routte
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    June 2016
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