Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

Zambian woman holds land titles.

Women’s land rights are human rights.


of the world’s economies limit women’s property rights

44 of 191

countries do not provide female and male surviving spouses with equal rights to inherit assets

1 in 5

women feels insecure about her land and property rights

USAID is securing and strengthening women’s land and resource rights across the developing world. Having secure rights to access and control land, and the benefits that come from using land, is central to determining household income and opportunity and can provide a powerful pathway to improved wellbeing, livelihoods, and resilience. For example, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, if women had the same access to productive resources as men, farm output would increase by 20 to 30 percent. Today, although women play a critical role in food production, they are less likely than men to own and control land.


Why Women’s Land Rights Matter

Ownership and control over assets are central to women’s economic empowerment and their ability to contribute to local, national, and global economies. For many women, the most valuable of these assets are the land and natural resources from which they earn a living, provide for their families, and invest in their communities. Evidence suggests that strengthening women’s land and resource rights can have a positive impact on their bargaining power and decision-making, particularly around important household-level decisions such as expenditures for children’s health and education and intergenerational transfers, including inheritance.  Through programs, partnerships, research and policy reforms, USAID is working on the ground to address  the barriers women face to accessing and controlling land, as well as the benefits that secure land and resource rights bring to women, their families, and communities. 

Our goal is to improve women’s access to and control over land and natural resources in order to expand their concrete and inclusive economic, social, and political opportunities. 

Working with women, men, governments, traditional leaders, communities, and the private sector, USAID’s land and resource governance programming include strategies to:

  • Support law and policy reforms to formalize and strengthen women’s land and resource governance rights;
  • Promote gender and social inclusion in land documentation and registration;
  • Enable gender and social norms change;
  • Promote inclusive land use planning;
  • Integrate women, and their unique needs and concerns, into agricultural supply chains;
  • Raise awareness and advocate for equitable land and resource governance;
  • Empower women through agency-based trainings;
  • Gather and disseminate evidence, best practices, and lessons learned.

Where USAID is Working on Women’s Land Rights

Colombia, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Liberia, Mozambique, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Zambia


Blog Posts

Women’s Land Rights Champion: Altaf Afridi

This interview with Altaf Afridi, USAID/Pakistan, is part of USAID’s Land and Resource Governance Division’s Women’s Land Rights Champions series, which profiles staff across USAID Missions and operating units who are working to advance women’s land rights. Tell us about yourself. My name is Altaf Afridi. I work as a Development Assistance Specialist at USAID/Pakistan....Read More

Linking Land and Climate: Resources from LandLinks and Climatelinks

Protecting natural ecosystems, empowering Indigenous Peoples, and supporting effective land governance systems are necessary to achieve climate resilience. COP28 is fostering progress on these topics through today’s theme: Nature, Land Use, and Oceans. USAID is leading the way on land issues by strengthening resource tenure governance and property rights to support sustainable livelihoods and protect...Read More

Partnering to Close the Gender Gap in Agrifood Systems

Farming is risky business and for women farmers, the risks are compounded. As the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO’s) new Status of Women in Agrifood Systems (SWAS) report makes clear, women farmers and agricultural workers face hurdles that men do not.  Women have unequal access to and control over key productive assets and...Read More

International Rural Women’s Day 2022 – “My Land, Our Futures”

Around the world, USAID is helping thousands of rural women secure their rights to land – providing them, their children and their communities with the security they need to build a brighter future. Mozambique Floriana Mariano Jose, 69, never had her own land. Last year, she received the long-term right to use a half-hectare plot...Read More

Five Ways Women Lead on Addressing Climate Change

And Three Ways We Can Empower them to Lead More Climate change poses incredible challenges for women and girls in the developing world. The impacts of climate change disproportionately impact women and girls by barring them from accessing increasingly scarce natural resources, leaving them more vulnerable to extreme weather events and limiting their opportunities for education...Read More

Women’s Land Rights Champion: Corinne Hart

This series features Women’s Land Rights Champions within USAID to learn more about their work. We’re pleased to share this interview with Corinne Hart, USAID’s Senior Gender Advisor for Energy, Environment, and Climate. Tell us about yourself I am the Senior Gender Advisor for Energy, Environment, and Climate in USAID’s Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment...Read More

“Having a home doesn’t make you rich, but not having one makes you very poor”

Q&A with Patricia Castro, Tumaco’s Secretary of Women’s Affairs In January 2021, the municipal administration of Tumaco created its first Secretary of Women and Gender Equality. The entity represents a new view of equality and the strengthening of women’s rights. In this interview the Secretary, Patricia Castro, talks about the entity’s strategy and the challenges that...Read More

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Evaluations & Research

Targeted Study on the Role of Customary Land Formalization in Women’s Economic Empowerment

This report presents the results of a mixed-methods study on the role of customary land documentation in strengthening Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE). The overarching purpose was to help fill critical knowledge gaps on if and how strengthening women’s land rights via formalized customary land documentation affects their empowerment and economic growth, with a specific focus...Read More

Gender Disparities in Customary Land Allocation: Lessons from USAID Impact Evaluation Data

This report presents the final results of the CEL Gender and Land Allocation (GLA) research activity. The objective of GLA is to investigate the extent to which customary land allocation systems exhibit gender bias in order to inform policy and programming intended to provide secure land rights for women To this end, GLA utilizes secondary household datasets that have been collected for impact evaluations of previous USAID land tenure projects in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

Intimate Partner Violence and Land Tenure

The US Government is committed to preventing and responding to gender-based violence (GBV). This commitment is articulated in policies, laws, and other guidance documents. For USAID, addressing GBV is one of the three pillars of the Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy (2012). By preventing and responding to GBV, USAID can help protect the human...Read More

The Effectiveness of a Social Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) Strategy in Changing Social Attitudes on Equal Rights to Property for Women – The Case of Kosovo

The society in Kosovo is considered patriarchal and patrilineal, where property inheritance is traditionally transferred to men (Joireman, 2015). Even though the laws on Gender Equality and Law on Inheritance are considered egalitarian, the social norms continue to encourage patriarchal values that exclude women from property inheritance. This paper will address the social context and...Read More

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Tools & Resources

Intimate Partner Violence and Land Toolkit

Each year, millions of women are physically and sexually assaulted by intimate or domestic partners. The World Health Organization estimates that as many as 30 percent of women have experienced this kind of violence (2013), making it the most common form of gender-based violence. The U.S. Government (USG) is committed to preventing and responding to...Read More

Effective Engagement with Indigenous Peoples: USAID Sustainable Landscapes Sector Guidance Document

This sector guidance document is based on desktop research about SL related issues among Indigenous Peoples, international standards, and USAID program experiences. It is also based on interviews with USAID development professionals. This guidance complements and is informed by the programming guidance within the USAID Policy on Promoting the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (PRO-IP) and is one part of USAID's collection of sector-specific guidance documents on engagement with Indigenous Peoples.

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