Karol Boudreaux has recently penned this article, Addressing Land Rights Can Make Social Change Possible for the Guardian. USAID is delighted to see an important foundation taking a public and carefully articulated stand on this vital development subject. Ms. Boudreaux correctly notes “The challenge is to expand people’s opportunity to improve their lives by securing their property rights.” This is indeed one of the most fundamental objectives in addressing challenges related to property rights.
“While the right itself is important, what you can do with the right is perhaps more so,” says Dr. Gregory Myers, USAID Division Chief, Land Tenure and Property Rights. “Rights allow you to make more decisions about what you want to do with your assets. Strong rights allow you to take risks, be more entrepreneurial, or withdraw when risks are determined to be too high.” While these rights generate economic and social gains across all segments of society, stronger property rights greatly benefit one vulnerable group in particular: women. Stronger property rights allows women to control assets upon divorce or death of a spouse, exclude men and brothers who might take land from them, and leverage assets for access to investment to increase productivity. As Ms. Boudreaux’s article points out, USAID and its partner Landesa are piloting an innovating model for improving women’s access to customary justice, particularly related to women’s land rights in Kenya.