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 gender-based violence, including intimate partner violence (IPV). This commitment is articulated in several policies, laws and other guidance documents. Addressing violence against women is also one of the three pillars of the USAID Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy.
While the causes of and motivations for IPV are complex, some research suggests that when women are able to accumulate assets in their own name they may experience lower levels of IPV and their partners may be less likely to engage in abusive behavior. This suggests that one possible strategy to reduce the incidence of IPV may be to empower women with more secure rights to land and other property. In some contexts, when women hold secure rights to assets such as land and housing their status within households and communities rises, their agency and empowerment increases and this may shift men’s behavior. In addition, having housing in her own name may help women escape abusive relationships.
Securing land rights for women is important because land remains a critical asset, particularly (though not exclusively) for rural dwellers who depend upon agricultural for a livelihood. Land provides a place to build a home, grow food and livestock and build a business. However, in the developing world, women’s land rights are often weak, creating a range of insecurities: risk of displacement, loss of housing and livelihoods and health risks (USAID 2016). Providing women with secure tenure over the land and resources is an important element in the fight against poverty and hunger and to promote gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. USAID works with governments, businesses and communities in 23 countries to support efforts to secure land rights and strengthen land governance systems to increase economic prosperity and promote resilience among women and men.
This Toolkit supports the objectives of the United States Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Genderbased Violence Globally and USAID’s Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy. It addresses activities and projects that USAID staff may design to strengthen and secure land tenure, property rights and land governance in rural, peri-urban and urban areas. The Toolkit is one of several gender-based violence (GBV) Toolkits that USAID has developed to address concerns related to GBV in other sectors including, but not limited to, Economic Growth, Energy and Infrastructure, Monitoring and Evaluation and the Rule of Law.
The Toolkit is meant to be an easily-accessible resource designed to increase awareness of concerns related to IPV in land-related policies and programming (noting that a more comprehensive companion analysis of this issue can be found at: Intimate Partner Violence and Land Tenure, 2018). It provides recommendations for activities that can build an understanding of this issue and address the needs of women and men for more secure land and resources. This Toolkit also provides recommendations related to monitoring and evaluation of land activities and suggests indicators that projects may wish to use to measure outcomes.