This research, entitled “The Impact of Gendered Legal Rights to Land on the Prevalence and Nature of Intra- and Inter-Household Disputes” set out to interrogate the changing landscape of gendered land rights in Rwanda, and to examine the impact of the statutory changes introduced by laws governing land, inheritance, succession and matrimonial property passed between 1999 and 2013. In addition to assessing the extent to which gendered, land-related legal provisions are put into practice and rights secured, this research also sought to understand whether changes introduced to the legal framework gave rise to land disputes, and if so, the types of land disputes provoked and whether they involved gender-based violence.
The research team used a mixed methods approach, collecting and triangulating data acquired via household survey, court cases, focus group discussions, and key informant interviews.
The findings demonstrate that land rights in a dynamically changing social and statutory environment can result in inconsistencies, uncertainties and some confusion. This is nowhere more evident than in inter-generational inter vivos land-transfers called “umunani”, which were traditionally gifts of land given to male children, but which are now also accessible to women. Other arenas of contestation relate to the rights of women in legal versus informal marriage, the land rights of widows, and legal co-ownership of land.