New IFPRI Discussion Paper: Gender Inequalities in Ownership and Control of Land in Africa: Myths versus Reality

Over the past decade, stakeholders have made a variety of generalized claims concerning women’s landownership, both globally and in Africa. Typically, these claims include statements with single statistics, such as “women own less than 2 percent of the world’s land” or “women own approximately 15 percent of land in Africa south of the Sahara.” These claims are problematic because they are not substantiated by empirical evidence, do not reflect variations in landownership across or within countries, do not acknowledge differences in landownership regimes, nor address comparative ownership by men in the same contexts. Neither do they address the difference between ownership and control of land. The lack of a clear understanding behind statistics on gender and land also leads to an inability to clearly articulate a policy response to the potential inequalities faced by women and men. The objective of a new paper by Cheryl Doss, Chiara Kovarik, Amber Peterman, Agnes Quisumbing and Mara van den Bold, Gender inequalities in ownership and control of land in Africa:  Myth versus reality,  is to explore, conceptually and empirically, the levels and relative inequalities in landownership between women and men in African countries.

The review investigates the extent of women’s land ownership in sub Saharan Africa, using nationally representative data sets.  The paper highlights the need to clarify what we mean when we provide statistics on women’s land ownership—what do we mean by ownership, and what land are we talking about.  Most of the available data is not consistent on these points.  Where there is data available, there is a very mixed picture of women’s land ownership, and broad generalizations hide that important variability.


  1. […] Research Institute (IFPRI – a member of the CGIAR Consortium), a new PIM-funded discussion paper: Gender inequalities in ownership and control of land in Africa: Myths versus reality, seeks to bring clarity to the complex issue of women’s access to land, and the relative […]

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