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

Helen Dancer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBN

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.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInnovation, transformation and sustainable futures in Africa, Proceedings of the African Futures Conference
Place of PublicationUK
PublisherWiley
Pages163-173
Number of pages11
Volume1
ISBN (Print)9781931303583
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2017
EventInnovation, transformation and sustainable futures in Africa, Proceedings of the African Futures Conference - Dakar, Senegal, 1-3 June 2016
Duration: 18 Aug 2017 → …

Publication series

NameProceedings of the African Futures Conference

Conference

ConferenceInnovation, transformation and sustainable futures in Africa, Proceedings of the African Futures Conference
Period18/08/17 → …

Bibliographical note

© 2017 by the American Anthropological Association. All rights reserved

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    Dancer, H. (2017). Transformation in realising women’s land rights and access to justice: lessons from the law in action in Tanzania. In Innovation, transformation and sustainable futures in Africa, Proceedings of the African Futures Conference (Vol. 1, pp. 163-173). (Proceedings of the African Futures Conference). Wiley. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2573-508X.2016.tb00048.x