Controlling land they call their own: access and women's empowerment in Northern Tanzania

Goldman, M. J., Davis, A. and Little, J. (2016) Controlling land they call their own: access and women's empowerment in Northern Tanzania. Journal of Peasant Studies, 43(4), pp. 777-797. (doi: 10.1080/03066150.2015.1130701)

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Formal rights to land are often promoted as an essential part of empowering women, particularly in the Global South. We look at two grassroots non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working on land rights and empowerment with Maasai communities in Northern Tanzania. Women involved with both NGOS attest to the power of land ownership for personal empowerment and transformations in gender relations. Yet very few have obtained land ownership titles. Drawing from Ribot and Peluso’s theory of access, we argue that more than ownership rights to land, access–to land, knowledge, social relations and political processes–is leading to empowerment for these women, as well as helping to keep land within communities. We illustrate how the following are key to both empowerment processes and protecting community and women’s land: (1) access to knowledge about legal rights, such as the right to own land; (2) access to customary forms of authority; and (3) access to a joint social identity–as women, as indigenous people, and as Maasai. Through this shared identity and access to knowledge and authority, women are strengthening their access to social relations (amongst themselves, with powerful political players and NGOs), and gaining strength through collective action to protect land rights.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported by the University of Colorado-Boulder Innovative Seed Grant, Center toAdvance Research and Teaching in the Social Sciences (CARTS), and the Council for Researchand Creative Work (CRCW), Grant-in-Aid; and the National Science Foundation collaborativeresearch grant [NSF grant # 0921507].
Keywords:Land, gender, women, Tanzania, Maasai, empowerment, property rights, access.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Davis, Dr Alicia
Authors: Goldman, M. J., Davis, A., and Little, J.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences > Geography
Journal Name:Journal of Peasant Studies
Publisher:Routledge, Taylor & Francis
ISSN (Online):1743-9361
Published Online:17 June 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
First Published:First published in Journal of Peasant Studies 43(4):777-797
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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