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.
|Name||Proceedings of the African Futures Conference|
|Conference||Innovation, transformation and sustainable futures in Africa, Proceedings of the African Futures Conference|
|Period||18/08/17 → …|
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