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The fight for women’s land rights: A long history

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Virtually all of the property systems in developing countries discriminate against women, Landesa President and CEO Tim Hanstad said in an interview, but he also noted that was also true of systems in the developed countries.

“Generally good things happen when you give land rights to women,” he said, but “you have to work against custom.”

Land is typically given to the male child, Hanstad said, because there is a heavy bias toward men and because it is the most important asset. Daughters gets dowries, he noted, because they have to move to the husband’s house, “and you can’t take land with you.”

Polygamy appears to be especially challenging, but “the issue really should be about equal rights to women and equal land rights to women,” he said.