Land reform and gender equality are important development issues in
post-Genocide Rwanda. Beginning in 1999, the government of Rwanda
passed and implemented reforms which granted women rights to own and
use land on an equal status with men. However, as is expected with
widespread social reform, obstacles continue to inhibit widespread gender
equality in practice. In Rwanda, major social obstacles manifest in the
form of (1) resistance to allowing daughters to inherit land from their
parents, (2) adherence to assumptions of female inferiority, and (3) the
persistence of informal marriages, in which wives remain unprotected by
the new laws. Interested actors have documented these obstacles and
proposed legal and policy solutions to overcome them. This article seeks to
identify the causes underlying these obstacles to gender equality. Through
this analysis, I find that land scarcity, vestiges of discriminatory legal
systems, and gendered power structures are significant underlying causes
of these social obstacles. I argue that many of the currently proposed
solutions are inadequate because they do not address these underlying
causes, as is necessary to better secure women's land rights.
The question currently before Rwanda - how to ensure gender equality in
the face of continuing social obstacles - has importance outside Rwanda's
borders. The underlying causes discussed in this Article are not unique to
Rwanda. Understanding the ways in which these factors inhibit gender
equality, and finding solutions to overcome them, are lessons learned not
just for Rwanda, but also for the international development community.
"Procuring Meaningful Land Rights for the Women of Rwanda,"
Yale Human Rights and Development Journal:
1, Article 3.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yhrdlj/vol14/iss1/3