Gender and Land Governance

Land has been recognized as a primary source of wellbeing. This relevance is especially high in rural areas, where land is the basis for food, shelter and economic activities to secure livelihoods. In addition, access to water and forests, to basic services such as electricity and sanitation, credit, transportation and markets is often also dependant on land.

Yet, the issue of land is highly gendered: Women contribute 43% of the work to agricultural production, although they control only approx. 15% of the land. Worse, only less than 2% of the land available worldwide is owned by women. Women face bigger obstacles to access markets as well as financial and advisory services. Gender roles and stereotypes, insufficient legal rights and policies on the national and local levels and/or their lacking implementation, as well as customary and cultural practices, hinder women’s equal rights to land. Neither the international human rights framework nor national laws automatically guarantee equal access to and control over land for women and men.

Therefore, the structural obstacles and root causes of gender inequalities need to be tackled as well as gender roles and stereotypes reflecting the unequal power relationships between women and men. A gender-sensitive sustainable development approach has to improve the conditions under which women provide food at a small scale with maximum effort for self-consumption, and women need to get equal access and rights to productive assets, land, resources and inputs as well as adequate information and training.

SDC Gender Equality Network as well as the Agriculture and Food Security Network with professionals from headquarters and from the cooperation offices in partner countries discussed issues of land, food security, agriculture and gender in depth in 2014. This was carried out in e-discussions and culminated in the biannual face-to-face of the two networks and an international conference on Gender, Land and Sustainable Development. A publication capitalizes the experiences of SDC staff around the world together with all these discussions and good practices mentioned and it includes references to the latest research and reports on the issue.


SDC, ICFG (2014): Gender and Land - Implications for Sustainable Development. A working paper for development practitioners
Face-to-Face June 2014



Resources and publications on gender in natural resources, food security, climate change and biodiversity you can find here.