Transformation in realising women's land rights and access to justice: lessons from the law in action in Tanzania

Dancer, Helen (2016) Transformation in realising women's land rights and access to justice: lessons from the law in action in Tanzania. ASA/AAA/CODESRIA African Futures Conference, Dakar, Senegal, 1-3 June 2016. Published in: Proceedings of the African Futures Conference. 1 (1) 163-173. Wiley ISSN 2573-508X ISBN 9781931303583

[img] PDF - Published Version
Download (245kB)

Abstract

Women’s land rights have been part of land law reform agendas taking place across Africa since the 1990s. In 1999 Tanzania was at the forefront, enshrining women’s equal rights to land in the country’s Land Acts. Yet how effective has the legislation been for women who claim a right to land in practice? Is an individual able to access justice effectively through the legal system? This paper examines the transformative possibilities and limits of Tanzania’s land law reforms, both within and beyond the walls of the courtroom. It presents an overview of three lessons for policy and practice drawn from in-depth ethnographic research published in the author’s book, Women, Land and Justice in Tanzania (Woodbridge: James Currey, 2015). It is argued, firstly, that an holistic approach to land, marriage and inheritance law reform is needed. Secondly, law reform does not in itself bring about social transformation. An individual’s ability to access justice is significantly affected by key social and political actors within family and community who interact with local courts. Thirdly, courts must ‘ask the woman question’ and recognise the implicit male bias that shapes the production and weight given to certain kinds of evidence in land cases. Gendered norms and social power relations remain critical factors affecting women’s land rights and access to justice in practice.

Item Type: Conference Proceedings
Keywords: women's land rights, access to justice, legal pluralism, Africa, Tanzania
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Law
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HQ The Family. Marriage. Women
K Law
K Law > KL-KWK Asia and Eurasia, Africa, Pacific Area, and Antarctica > KR Africa
K Law > KL-KWK Asia and Eurasia, Africa, Pacific Area, and Antarctica > KR Africa > KTT Tanzania
Depositing User: Helen Dancer
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2018 09:31
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2018 14:38
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/72586

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update