Widespread gender gap in land rights spotlighted by new online UN database

Gender equality in access to land can boost food security.

17 February 2010 – A new online database produced by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) shines a light on how women lag far behind men in their access to land, major stumbling bock to rural development.

The Gender and Land Rights Database offers up-to-date information on the legal rights of men and women differ in nearly 80 countries, allowing users to find the total number of women landholders and rural households headed by women, among other statistics, in these nations.

In most of the world, there is a widespread gap between men and women in rates of ownership of agricultural land and access to income from land, even though women are major producers of food crops and play a key role in providing and caring for their households.

The disparity in land access “jeopardizes food security at the household and community levels, and has an impact on national food security and development,” said Marcela Villarreal, Director of FAO’s Gender, Equity and Rural Employment Division.

The new database seeks to provide a clearer picture of the social, economic, political and cultural factors impacting women’s land rights.

It features both national and customary laws governing land use; property rights and inheritance; international treaties and conventions; and land tenure.

“Decision-makers at all levels now have, on the one hand, a comprehensive source of information on the more relevant factors affecting the equality of land rights in their countries and, on the other hand, the possibility to make comparisons between trends and situations in their own and other countries,” according to Zoraida Garcia, a gender and development research officer with FAO.


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