The Paradox of Gender Equality and Economic Outcomes in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Role of Land Rights

Equal rights and proactive protection of the right for women and girls to inherit and own land in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is important to the expansion of the capabilities of women and girls to lead the kind of lives they value, and have reason to value. This study provides an in-depth analysis of the role of women’s ownership and access to land in SSA in determining gender equality and women’s economic and social outcomes, and provides suggestions to inform effective gender-sensitive land policies. Using cross-sectional regression analysis, we find that ownership of land by women positively contributes to women’s absolute employment. Conversely, results from pairwise correlation showed that lack of ownership of land by women is highly correlated with increased women’s unemployment. Despite these findings, the proportion of women who own land in SSA is 40 percent lower than that of men, whereby about 30 percent of women own land in SSA, compared to 70 percent of men. Moreover, women usually acquire this land either through purchase from the market system or marriage.

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