Experiences of Women in Asserting their Land Rights: The case of Bugesera District

Published: February 2011

The report represents the results of a study with the objectives to identify women experiencing challenges in securing access and control over land, document their experiences in fighting for these rights, identify impediments to fair settlements of land disputes involving women and together with the women, devise strategies to enforce and protect women's rights to land ownership as provided under the statutory law.

Key Findings

  • It is evident that customary practices regarding inheritance are still widely practiced in Rwanda alongside the new legislations that give equal land rights to men and women.
  • Although the Rwanda law tends to follow a traditional hierarchy of involving family councils to resolve disputes, it was found that most of the disputes involving women are resolved outside these councils by the Abunzi.
  • There are indications of increasing awareness of land rights among women. However, they still suffer a number of challenges in asserting these rights particularly lack of necessary assistance in pursuing these rights.
  • Women believe that the family council and the Umudugudu are biased and are highly susceptible to prejudice.
  • The way forward for Rwanda is for advocacy to focus on points that have greater capacity to affect women's land rights.
  • A combination of the size, favorable law of joint marital property and a strong political will, makes it pertinent to set up community land information systems to record both primary and secondary rights over land aimed at forestalling false transactions and claims over land.
  • Awareness raising campaigns on women's land rights need to go beyond the provisions of the law to give the intent of the provisions and their justification with the objective of changing negative attitudes towards women's land rights.
  • Vigilante groups at the grassroots level can help in furthering and deepening awareness of land rights among women as well as hold land administration institutions accountable for their actions.

Populations Women

Publishers Rwanda Women's Network

Geographic Focus Africa (Central) / Rwanda

Funded by Makerere Institute of Social Research