June 1st marks International Children’s Day, a global celebration of children and an opportunity to bring special attention to how secure land tenure positively affects children. Evidence from a number of countries suggests that when women have secure rights to land and other assets their children and their communities also benefit. For example, in countries where women have weak land rights the level of childhood malnutrition is, on average, 60 percent higher compared with countries where those rights are strong. Research also shows that when mothers have more secure rights to land their children stay in school longer. Other studies show that when women hold more secure rights to land they are better able to provide their children with needed healthcare.
These positive outcomes spread through a society: for each additional year that a child stays in school his wages rise by 10% (more for girls) and children who are better nourished are better able to learn. Educated girls have children later in their life leading to lower rates of childhood pregnancy, which can have potentially serious health consequences.
Securing land rights is an important contributing factor to improving household food security, expanding educational opportunities for children and improving children’s access to healthcare. This means that for children, as well as for their parents, land matters. USAID is working in 24 countries around the world to clarify and strengthen land rights for all members of society, especially women.