When it comes to land and property rights around the world, there is no doubt that women get the short end of the stick: According to a new report published by UN-HABITAT on the occasion of the 16th session of the Commission for Sustainable Development this week, women own less than 10 percent of the property in the developed world, while in the developing world it is only 2 percent.
In her foreword to the publication launched this week, Secure Land Rights for All, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UN-HABITAT states: “Secure land and property rights for all are essential to reducing poverty, because they underpin economic development and social inclusion. Secure land rights empower people in both rural and urban areas to improve their homes and livelihoods. At the same time, they help to promote good environmental management, improve food security, and assist directly in the realization of human rights, including the elimination of discrimination against women, the vulnerable, indigenous groups and other minorities.”
The new work also explains that the recent crises in Kenya and Zimbabwe show that land is a critical issue in Africa. For example, in much of Central Africa, only 1 percent of the land has been surveyed and titled. Though the figure is higher in other parts of Africa, at best it accounts for only 15 percent of the land.
The situation is not much better in Asia and Latin America, where up to 70 percent of the land still remains officially unrecorded.
Given such startling statistics, immediate attention needs to be given to land and property rights especially given the increased population and the resulting demand for land.