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Title: Women’s Land Rights and Access to Credit in a Predominantly Patrilineal System of Inheritance: Case Study of the Frafra Traditional Area, Upper East Region
Authors: Agana, Charles
Issue Date: 14-Mar-2012
Abstract: There is a continuous debate about the need for gender balance in land tenure by focusing more attention on the land rights of women in Africa due to the important contributions they make to agriculture production, food security and the role they play in the food chain beginning from production to consumption. However, there exist significant differences regarding women’s and men’s access to and control over land in the Upper East Region and Northern Ghana as whole due to men’s dominance in decision-making processes, leadership positions within the communities and the advantages accorded to them by local customs and traditions. This study explored the rights of women to land and how this has impacted on their access to credit facilities. Using quantitative and qualitative data obtained through interviews with guided questionnaires from the Frafra Traditional Area, a predominantly patrilineal inheritance society in Ghana, the study examined the nature of the land relations within the context of the customs of the Frafras, highlighting any disparities between men and women’s rights regarding access, control and ownership of land. It further examined the factors that limit women’s rights to land and the extent to which this influences access to credit facilities from the financial institutions. The results showed that the nature of the customary land relations between men and women does not preclude women from access to agricultural land. However, these land relations lack the security associated with right of ownership and control. It was clear that variations exist between men and women in the areas of ownership, use and control regarding the three identified categories of land. These are lands within the immediate compounds known as “samane”, those created out from the bush lands referred to as “vartor” and lastly the vast range or pasture lands also known as “Buor”. Whilst men have unfettered access to all these three categories of land, women on the other hand except widows, do not have access to the “samane” lands. It also shows that there exist variations with regards to access and use of land among the various categories of women (married, unmarried, divorced and widowed) in both the natal and marital homes. It was revealed that married women and widows tend to have greater access and some level of control over their husbands’ lands than the case of sisters/daughters in the natal home. The study also identified some factors that tend to hinder women’s access, ownership, use and control of land and these include customary beliefs on ownership of land, customary rules on inheritance, the taboo forbidding women from performing sacrifices to ancestors, urbanisation, among others. The results further revealed that even though customary tenure does not support and guarantee women’s right to own and control land, the evidence gathered from this study does not support the wider perception that tenure insecurity is negatively impacting on the ability of women raising credit from the financial institutions. In the light of the findings of the study, a conclusion was made that even though customary land relations between men and women, does not totally preclude women in the area of access to land for agriculture, it does not provide support and security for their right of ownership and control. It was also concluded that even though most women in the Frafra traditional area generally do not have secured rights to land, there is no evidence of this negatively impacting on the ability of women raising credit from the financial institutions. The recommendations are geared towards the enhancement of the right of women to access, own and control land and these include the government, in conjunction with gender based NGO’s and other relevant stakeholders should develop appropriate platforms to trigger discussions and negotiations on improving women’s land rights through the abolition of certain inimical customary practices and traditions that impede women’s rights to land. It is also recommended that Gender Focal Persons be appointed to the secretariat of the Regional Lands Commission (LC) whose duties would be to identify and collate the customary practices inhibiting women’s land rights for the attention of the LC to enable it map out and devise policies and strategies that will ameliorate the situation. A comprehensive law on the property rights of spouses must be promulgated to protect women’s property rights in the matrimonial homes and also enable them make claims to farmlands of their spouses in the Frafra Traditional Area.
Description: A Thesis submitted to the Department of Land Economy, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy, September-2012
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/123456789/5036
Appears in Collections:College of Architecture and Planning

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