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Land use security within the current land property rights in rural South Africa : how women's land based food security efforts are affected.

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Rural women‘s land rights in South Africa remain secondary in spite of laws founded on a constitution that promotes gender equality. Patriarchal customary laws prevail and women‘s land rights and use security are inextricably linked to their relationships with their male relatives. Rural women are key producers of agricultural products due to historical and continued male outward migration, which has led to a feminisation of agriculture. Although women farm the land, their land use security is poor and can be further threatened by divorce or widowhood. Given that most vulnerable women are based in rural communal South Africa, how can their land rights be secured under the customary law framework? While the statutory law framework seems to provide a solution, it is less applicable in rural areas where customary law and traditional practices prevail. If statutory law cannot be superimposed on the existing customary law framework, how can women‘s land use be further secured to support their household food security efforts? What kind of framework can be introduced to strengthen women‘s land use security? A study was conducted in rural Limpopo Province to explore this complex and yet important question. A mixed methods approach comprising interview style questionnaires with a mixture of closed and open-ended questions, coupled with focus group discussions and observation was employed. Qualitative data from the focus group discussions and open-ended questions was analysed for common themes using content analysis. Quantitative data was analysed using SPSS to establish descriptive data, frequencies and establish the relationships between variables. Results of the analyses were used for building blocks to develop a land rights framework that is more gender sensitive and secures the rights of the actual land users. Women‘s land rights were largely confirmed to be secondary and land use security was linked to the continued relationship to male relatives through marriage and natural blood lines. From these findings, a gender sensitive framework that enables and improves land-based food security efforts has been proposed.


Thesis (M.Sc.Agric.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2013.


Right of property--South Africa., Rural women--South Africa., Land use, Rural--South Africa., Women--Legal status, laws, etc.--South Africa., Customary law--South Africa., Food security--South Africa., Theses--Food security.