This report is the outcome of a study conducted in six regions of Ghana to establish the various range of rights that regulate women access and control over land for food production. The study was necessitated by the fact that women, though, key stakeholders in agriculture and food production are face with challenges of accessing and controlling land for effective production.
The objective of the study is to enrich wealth of information on the current state of women’s right and access to land resources and how it affects on food security, food sovereignty and livelihoods in Ghana. The study was largely qualitative and therefore relied on participatory methods such as Focus Group Discussion and interviews of key informants for data collection.
The study confirmed several literatures state that agriculture is the main source of livelihood among many women in rural communities in Ghana. Women were found to be major stakeholders in agriculture especially in food crop production in all the study regions. The findings however, indicate that women in general have limited access and control over agricultural lands. This therefore limited their involvement in food production. Both men and women therefore acknowledged the fact that if women were to be given equal access and control over land, they would contribute immensely to household food security and income.
It was also noted in the study that, apart from limited access to land, several factors such as limited access to agriculture information, extension services and financial services militates against women effective involvement in food production across the study regions.
Land tenure under the customary systems was found as the predominant form of land governance and determines the level of rights and control over land in the all study regions. An important factor determining the relationship between rural households and land is security of tenure, or the ability of men and women to maintain the rights and conditions that permit secure use of the land. Security of tenure is to a large extent a social contract through which the community bestows to an individual or household the right to cultivate land. It is a critical socio-economic and psychological right granted to individual men and women or to groups under different forms of land tenure. Security of tenure allows individuals or groups to reap the benefits of their labour and ensures that they have future control over the land. In northern Ghana, most women do not have access to productive lands. Even when women have access to land, their security of tenure is often precarious. Under customary law, men and women usually have clearly defined rights to land, trees and water as well as usufruct rights, bestowed on them by the community elders.
The decision making powers of individuals was found to have direct influence on the level to which individuals can access and control land and other productive resources. Secure land access and ownership is a major cause of concern for women, especially those in food production. In general across the six study region, men maintain the positions of authority in both matrilineal and patrilineal systems. Neither system protects women’s rights of inheritance even though it is believed that matrilineal systems provide women with better access to land.
Education on existing land rights (existing formal and customary land rights) is not receiving the priority it deserves in all the communities visited for this study. Several women interviewed during the study indicated that they lack knowledge of the existing laws on their human and customary rights.
Gender inequality in access to land and property is substantial due to discriminatory inheritance practices, unequal access to land markets and gender-biased land reform. Some progress has been made in legislative reform, but implementation is hindered by socio-cultural norms and women’s lack of knowledge of their entitlements. Socio-economic contexts determine the appropriateness of different types of rights to land and property—including individual rights, joint-titling and group rights.
Women’s equal access to and control over economic resources such as land is critical for the achievement of gender equality and empowerment of women and for equitable and sustainable livelihoods, economic growth and development in the study regions. The guarantee of women’s tenure security and the protection of women’s land rights require full collaboration of customary institutions, CSOs and government in the design and implementation of land policies and legislation. The study concludes that in order to increase food production and security in the study regions, there is the need to strengthen women capacity to defend their land tenure rights and enhance their access and control over land within the context of natural resources management. The study therefore recommended the following actions to enhance women land access and control in the study regions and Ghana at large; (i) To guarantee women’s tenure security and the protection of women’s land rights, there is need for full participation and collaboration of customary institutions, CSOs and government in the design, formulation and implementation of land policies, programmes and legislation (ii) Support programmes that will empower women economically to stand tall during competition for land purchase. Alternative livelihood activities and income empowerment interventions should be enhance to increase women income (iii) Increase women’s awareness and utilisation of legal aid and other legal services (iv) CSOs and Government agencies should develop and support initiatives that will enable women to obtain and defend their land rights, (v) Mobilize and support women to form groups and/or co-operatives, so that they can collectively fight for their rights to access land and other resources such as credit, information and agricultural inputs, (vi) Design initiatives that will advocate for increase women’s involvement in decision-making processes at the household, community, districts, regional and national levels, (vii) Advocate to change traditions and practices that discriminate against women in terms of land acquisition and land tenure security, (viii) Design specific programs to raise awareness and inform women about inheritance and succession laws such as PNDC Law 111.
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