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A critical analysis of land tenure reform from a gender perspective in South Africa: a focus on women in rural Kwa-Zulu Natal, the case of UMnini Trust Traditional Authority Area; eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality.

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The study set to examine land tenure reform from a gender perspective in South Africa, focusing on women in the rural areas of Kwa-Zulu Natal, particularly using uMnini Trust Traditional Authority Area within eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality as a case study. The intention was to critically analyse the extent to which current land reform programs address the gender disparities that currently exist regarding providing women with equal access and secure land rights. Sub-objectives were thus established as a guide in addressing the main aim. The study was guided by two theories, namely De Soto’s theory of secure property rights and the Neoclassical theory of property rights. De Soto’s theory emphasizes the importance of secure property rights (tenure security) for economic growth, development and overall prosperity and the Neoclassical theory asserts that property rights play a critical role in providing economic incentives that shape resource allocation. Both qualitative and quantitative methods to collect relevant data were used. Qualitative research allowed the researcher to rely on the views of participants especially rural women to develop concepts which helped understand and describe the phenomena at hand in detail. The quantitative method helped emphasize objective measurements and statistical analysis of data collected through questionnaires. The study however relied more on the qualitative approach. Findings of this study suggest that, land remains an emotive fault line in South Africa, when looking at land tenure from a gender lens perspective. Previous policies and legislations that purposefully neglected and isolated women as beneficiaries of any developmental initiatives are still very much entrenched in today’s society. Moreover, the complex interplay between statutory laws and informal and customary justice systems has not made things any better. It is evident that rural women in particular are still very much marginalised in owning land in their own right and continue to be subordinate within male centred structures. As recommendation, the design as well as implementation of policies, laws and regulations should be user friendly to rural women. Also, women must be meaningfully included in formulation of such laws to better secure their land rights. Their voices, knowledge, and interests in land programs should be included. Moreover, rural women should be first on the list in terms of policy formulation, given first preference and must be high on the government agenda. Furthermore, the government should ensure women have equal tenure rights as well as access to land independent of their marital status and support any legislative reforms which build on local tenure systems and practices securing the land rights of women.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.