Land Rights and Gender Equality in Ethiopia

IFPRI has just published a new paper that considers whether or not policy changes related to gender equality and women’s empowerment in Ethiopia are, or are not, mutually reinforcing. One set of changes involves certification of land use rights at the community level. See here for a discussion of USAID’s project supporting these efforts. Certification allows husbands and wives to be listed as joint holders of the rights (these rights are inheritable by the remaining spouse when the other spouse dies). At approximately the same time, the Family Code in the country was revised to provide for the equal division of marital assets upon divorce. Using a panel dataset and seven collection rounds the paper finds that “the land registration process and the reform of the Family Code may have mutually reinforcing effects on women’s rights and welfare. While this example is obviously rooted in the Ethiopian context, it raises the possibility that similar reform efforts may be complementary in other countries as well.” This suggests that coordinated policy efforts may be particularly helpful at closing the gender asset gap: an important strategy for improving women’s agricultural productivity and the health and nutrition of children.