Traditional leaders in Zambia shift gender norms and strengthen women’s land rights

le 19/07/2021

Patricia Malasha, IIED : Across much of Africa, land is not allocated and inherited under statutory law but through customary practices rooted in kinship. In patrilineal systems, land belongs to men’s families and is inherited through the paternal line.

In Zambia, many ethnic groups follow a matrilineal system, where women own land and pass it down the maternal line.

But ownership does not necessarily translate into access, use and control of land. Even in matrilineal societies, social and gender norms undermine women’s decision-making power. Traditionally – regardless of patrilineal or matrilineal systems − men have authority over household resources, including land − so when it comes to land rights, women are left out.

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