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ACCESS TO AND CONTROL OVER LAND AS GENDERED: CONTEXTUALIZING WOMEN’S ACCESS AND OWNERSHIP RIGHTS OF LAND IN RURAL GHANA

Isaac Dery

Abstract


Women’s access to and control over productive resources, including land, has increasingly been recognized in global discussions as a key factor in reducing poverty, ensuring food security and promoting gender equality. Indeed, this argument has been widely accepted by both feminists and development theorists since the 1980s. Based on qualitative research with 50 purposively selected men and women, this study explored the complexity of women’s access to and control over land within a specific relationship of contestations, negotiations, and manipulations with men. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis. While theoretically, participants showed that women’s [secure] access to and control over land has beneficial consequences to women themselves, households and the community at large, in principle, women's access and control status was premised in the traditional framework which largely deprives women, equal access and/or control over the land. The study indicates that even though land is the most revered resource and indeed, the dominant source of income for the rural poor, especially women, gender-erected discrimination and exclusion lie at the heart of many rural women in gaining access to land. This study argues that women's weak access rights and control over land continue to perpetuate the feminization of gender inequality–while men were reported to possess primary access and control over land as the heads of households, women were argued to have secondary rights due to their ‘stranger statuses’ in their husbands’ families. Overall, the degree of access to land among women was reported to be situated within two broad contexts–marriage and inheritance.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.25159/0304-615X/1044