Violence against women is also: Lack of land ownership

Land Ownership Action Against Hunger

Photo: Alfonso Rodriguez for Action Against Hunger. Action Against Hunger works with women in many countries who don’t have control over the lands they depend upon for food and housing.



From November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and until December 10th, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is a global campaign to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world.

Violence against women is one of the biggest causes of injury and death to women worldwide, causing more deaths and disability for women ages 15 to 44 than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war. In other words, it’s an epidemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.

However, violence against women goes beyond the physical. Violence can be physical, sexual, psychological. Violence can include limiting autonomy, decision-making power and access to certain resources.

For these 16 days, we are highlighting 16 different types of violence that women and girls experience beyond the physical.

You can take action against gender-based violence:


Day 10 – Violence against women is also: Lack of land ownership



Land ownership as a human right

Today, women own less than 20% of the world’s land. Though the UN considers land ownership to be a human right, in the Middle East and North Africa, it is estimated that 25 million women do not currently have any property rights.

In many developing countries, men are the head of the household and possess rights over the land and assets. Women often have little or no rights over the land on which they live or work. As a result, most women do not feel economically and socially stable; they can easily lose their source of income and land if they are divorced or widowed. This threat of poverty means the majority of women remain in violent or harmful relationships in order to provide for themselves and their children. A lack of land ownership also means that women have little decision making power in their households. At a young age, daughters are seen as an economic ‘burden’ and are married off early. With little chances of inheriting land, married women will continue to be seen as dependent members of the household, forced to rely on their husbands.


How land ownership reduces violence against women

Giving women the right to land have a tremendous impact not only on women’s empowerment but on the family as a whole, increasing both food security and sustainable development. First, as land owners, women suffering from domestic violence would no longer be dependent on their husbands for access to land to live and work. Second, for all women, granting them equal property rights would mean they would have greater decision making power over the land and how it’s used. Because women tend to invest up to 90% of their incomes back into their immediate families, having greater control over the family property means women would be empowered to make more household decisions, especially with regards to food production and consumption. Giving women land ownership rights would yield stability and independence for women.

Woman working in a field in Mauritania.


Ending violence against women is key to ending hunger.