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Authors: Nanko, G. D.
Issue Date: 2012
Abstract: Land as a natural resource plays a fundamental role in the lives of rural people especially women who mostly use land for the cultivation of food crops to support the sustenance of families. For many generations, land has been noted to be a source of identity and authority which enhances people's social, political status and power. Land in most rural communities in Ghana is usually acquired through inheritance normally by the male member(s) of the family with women often having user right to such lands as wives or daughters. Land reforms policies and state laws have either failed to address the gaps associated with the customary practices of land ownership and use or have existed side by side with customary practices. To ascertain women land rights situation in Upper West Region of Ghana, primary and secondary data were collected using instruments like interviews and focus group discussions with target groups. In all 386 respondents from 19 communities in two districts selected by means of probability and non probability sampling participated in the study. The background of respondents was diverse catering for the interest of widows, divorced, traditional leaders (Men and women), married men and women and land secretariat officials. The study shows that traditional laws on land rights continue to govern land access and control in most communities where traditional worship is relegated to the background whilst among the Sissala and Oagaaba only men can inherit land and property. Widows and divorce women living in communities in Sissala East and Jirapa district are the worse affected by limited access or control of land. Among the Sissala and Dagaaba ethnic groups, lands are communally owned and vested in the landlords', family heads or elders who exercise control over such land and hence inhibit the rural woman's ability to acquire land even if she had the resources to do so. Further, women in Sissala East enjoy more rights to land than their counterparts in lirapa as illiteracy has played a significant role in women's limited understanding of their land rights under state land laws.Recommendations to address the problem include consciousness-raising through education; aggressive advocacy on women rights to land; immediate passage of the spousal property bill into law; structuring of institutions involved in state land administration; and opening of satellite offices of Land Secretariats in district capitals to enhance access to their services especially among women.
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Planning and Land Mangement

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