How One Man’s Changing Perspective on Gender Resolved a Family Dispute Over Land

ILAW-Y3Q1-success-story cover imageChanging long-held beliefs and traditions around gender and land can be challenging, but using a community-based approach, families and communities in Côte d’Ivoire are already experiencing tangible changes in women’s access to land.

Mr. DOUÉ Michaël had never questioned the traditional attitudes around women’s land rights—and gender roles more broadly—that were prevalent in his community in Western Côte d’Ivoire. “Before, I thought that only men could inherit from their parents,” he shared. “I considered men to be superior to women.”

Thus, when their father died, Michaël and his sister, Lydie, faced a dispute: Michaël espoused the belief that he and his brothers were the sole heirs to their father’s property. But this didn’t sit well with Lydie, who wanted full land rights and recognition of her value as a member of the family.

It wasn’t until attending a training provided by USAID’s Improving Land Access for Women (ILAW) project that Michaël began to see the other side of the issue. Through the training, he heard his sister recount in a video how her inability to access the family land caused her economic and emotional hardship. Michael also learned about the benefits of sharing property with female family members, who are often in charge of household expenses.

With this new perspective, Michaël consulted with his brothers and decided to give Lydie a portion of the family land. The decision not only gave Lydie greater means for survival, but it also strengthened their relationship.

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