IIED webinar: strengthening women's rights in land governance


This webinar on 2 February 2016 discussed how women's rights in land governance can be strengthened.

A woman returns to a farmer village near Dodoma, Tanzania (Photo: Cecilia Schubert, Creative Commons via Flickr)

Citizens groups around the world are taking action to change the way that investments in natural resources are happening, and working to protect the environment and the rights of citizens. 

Recent research shows that agricultural investments have different impacts on men and women. However, women's participation in decision-making processes relating to land is often extremely limited and their voices are rarely heard.

On 2 February 2016, IIED hosted a webinar on 'Strengthening women's rights in land governance: experiences from Tanzania'. This online seminar was designed for civil society organisations in low and middle-income countries that want to support communities – and women in particular –whose land rights and livelihoods are affected by agricultural projects.

Outline programme

  • IIED senior researcher Phillippine Sutz introduced the seminar
  • Helen Dancer, senior lecturer at the University of Brighton, gave a brief introduction to gender issues in agricultural investments, based on her research, and
  • Naseku Kisambu, of the Tanzania Women Lawyers Association (TAWLA), discussed her organisation's work to mainstream gender in village land use planning and village bylaws in Tanzania. 

The discussion addressed questions such as:

  • What role is currently played by women in decision-making processes?
  • How can civil society organisations strengthen women's rights in relation to land, and with what results?
  • What are the challenges, and how can we tackle them? 

This online seminar was funded by UK aid from the UK Government. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the UK Government. 

Related reading

The webinar was part of IIED's work on Legal Tools for Citizen Empowerment, a collaborative initiative that aims to help local communities protect their rights in relation to natural resource investments.  

This event followed a workshop that took place in December 2015 in Zanzibar that brought together more than 20 civil society practitioners and researchers from Africa to discuss the gendered impacts of commercial pressures on land in Africa, share lessons and identify community-based approaches to tackle women's lack of voices and participation in relation to land governance.

IIED recently published a briefing on Reconsidering approaches to women's land rights in sub-Saharan Africa. This briefing discusses how decision makers and NGOs can tackle the question of women's access to land. It is based on an IIED workshop on land and gender in May 2015 in Senegal that brought together 28 gender, land rights and legal specialists from Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, Mali, Senegal and Uganda.

About the speakers

Helen Dancer is senior lecturer at the University of Brighton. She completed her doctorate at the University of Sussex and holds degrees from the universities of Oxford and London. She practised as a barrister for 11 years. Her research interests encompass women's land rights and access to justice, as well as the gender implications of land and agricultural commercialisation in Africa. She has published extensively on gender and land rights, among other things, including in 2015 her monograph, 'Women, Land and Justice in Tanzania' with James Currey. Dancer has presented her research findings to audiences of NGOs and policymakers in Europe and Africa. She is a consultant for the Future Agricultures Consortium at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, and has worked on a series of collaborative policy-oriented projects funded by DfID and ESRC exploring the gender implications of land and agricultural commercialisation in Ghana, Kenya, Zambia and Tanzania.

Naseku Kisambu is director of programmes at TAWLA, an NGO registered in Tanzania 1990. The founding members comprised a professional group of women lawyers who felt the need for an organisation that could promote an environment guaranteeing equal rights and access to all by focusing on vulnerable and marginalised groups, especially women and children. The founding members also recognised the need for women lawyers to foster mutual support for each other in professional advancement and social responsibility.


For more information about IIED's Legal Tools work, contact:

Lorenzo Cotula ([email protected]), team leader, legal tools