Opinion: Where is Gender in the Land Grab Debate?

Large-scale deals of land by foreign investors in developing countries--also referred to as ‘land grabs’-- have generated considerable attention; however little attention has been paid to the gender dimensions of these deals. A gender perspective is critical to truly understand the impact of land deals. Women and men have different social roles, rights and opportunities and will be differentially affected by changes in tenurial regimes associated with large-scale land deals.  The rationale for paying attention to gender issues in agriculture derives from a wide-ranging body of evidence that demonstrates the many ways in which women are essential to improvements in household agricultural productivity, food security, and nutrition. Evidence indicates that, in many parts of the world, men and women spend use resources differently: women are more likely to spend the income they control on food, healthcare, and education of their children. Empirical work also shows that increasing resources controlled by women will promote increased agricultural productivity.  Land-related investments that are promoted in the name of “rural development” will therefore miss their mark unless they address the needs of women as well as men.

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