Children's Rights
International Criminal Court
Women's Rights


This publication was produced for review by the United States Agency for
International Development. It was prepared by ARD, Inc.

Photograph of an Ethiopian woman showing her land title


We would like to acknowledge the assistance of several USAID personnel who were particularly helpful in obtaining the information we needed to carry out this study. These include Greg Myers, Richard Strickland, and Joan Atherton in USAID/Washington and Patricia Skyer at USAID Namibia. We would also like to acknowledge Hild Rygnestad, who assisted us with collecting information from World Bank land projects; Lennart Frej of the Swedish Amhara project in Ethiopia; David Johnston at the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA); and Raul Hopkins and Verushka Zilveti at IFAD.

Lessons Learned: Property Rights and Natural Resource Management (GLT 2)
USAID Contract No. PCE-I-00-99-00001-00, Task No. 13
ARD Principal Authors: Renee Giovarelli and Susana Lastarria-Cornhiel
ARD Principal Contact: Roxana Blanco
ARD Home Office Address: ARD, Inc.
159 Bank Street, Suite 300, Burlington, VT 05401
Tel: 802 658-3890, Fax 802 658-4247
Cover Photo: ELTAP Project, ARD, Inc.





The author’s views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the
United States Agency for International Development or the United States Government.


ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS .................................................. ii
1.0 BACKGROUND................................................................................. 1
2.0 METHODOLOGY.............................................................................. 5
2.1 APPROACH AND STEPS................................................................................. 5
3.0 SYNTHESIS OF FINDINGS ............................................................. 7
3.1 GENDER FOCUS DURING PROJECT PREPARATION .................................... 7
IMPLEMENTATION ......................................................................................... 8
OUTCOMES .................................................................................................13
FUNDING ......................................................................................... 14
4.1 GENDER FOCUS DURING PROJECT PREPARATION ..................................14
IMPLEMENTATION .......................................................................................15
OUTCOMES .................................................................................................16
APPENDIX A. CASE STUDIES............................................................ 19
HONDURAS (1995–2001).........................................................................36
PRESENT) .....................................................................................................43
HIGHLANDS (MARENASS), PERU (1997–2005)....................................74
(2001-2003) ...............................................................................................81
APPENDIX B. ORIGINAL PROJECT TABLE..................................... 89
APPENDIX C. CRITERIA TABLES...................................................... 93
APPENDIX D. REFERENCES ............................................................. 105


ADR Alternative Dispute Resolution
AIDS Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
AusAID Australian Agency for International Development
CAF Corporación Andina de Fomento
CBNRM Community-Based Natural Resource Management
CES Community Education Services
CIDA Canadian International Development Agency
COHRE Center on Housing Rights and Evictions
COSUDE Swiss International Cooperation Agency
CRM Community Resource Monitor
CRS Catholic Relief Services
CSO Civil Society Organization
DFID Department for International Development
ELTAP Ethiopia Land Tenure and Administration Program
FIDEG Fundación Internacional para el Desafío Económico Global
FY Fiscal Year
GAD Gender and Development
GOE Government of Ethiopia
GOM Grupo Organizado de Mujeres
GPS Global Positioning System
GRID Gender Resource Information and Development Center
GST Gender Sensitivity Training
GTZ German Technical Cooperation Agency
HIV Human Immunodeficiency Virus
IADB Inter-American Development Bank
ICRW International Center for Research on Women
IFAD International Fund for Agricultural Development
INA Instituto Nacional Agrario
INRA Instituto Nacional de Reforma Agraria
LAC Legal Assistance Center
LAM Land Administration and Management
LAMDP Land Administration, Management and Distribution Program (Philippines)
LAMP Land Administration and Management Project (Philippines)
LIFE Living in a Finite Environment Program
LMAP Land Management and Administration Project (Cambodia)
LTP Land Titling Project in Laos

LTPR Land Tenure and Property Rights
LWU Lao Women’s Union
MARENASS Market Strengthening and Livelihood Diversification in the Southern
Highlands of Peru Project
MCC Millennium Challenge Corporation
MLMUPC Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction
NACSO Women’s Leadership and Decision-Making: The Namibian Association of
CBNRM Support Organizations
NDT Namibia Development Trust
NGO Nongovernmental Organization
PETT Peruvian Government’s Rural Land Titling Activities
PIE Participatory Impact Evaluation
PIO Project Implementation Office
PMO Project Management Office
PRODEP Land Administration Project in Nicaragua
PROGENIAL Program on Gender in Latin America
PRONAT Panama Land Administration Project
RCSA Regional Center for Southern Africa (USAID)
SA Social Assessment
SARDP Swedish Amhara Rural Development Program
SAT Systematic Education Team
SIDA Swedish International Development Agency
SINAP System of National Protected Areas
SIST INRA’s Computerized Database
SO Strategic Objective
TCO Community Title in Bolivia
UN United Nations
USAID United States Agency for International Development
WIDTECH Women in Development Technical Assistance Project
WWF Worldwide Wildlife Fund


There is a significant gap in knowledge of how projects aimed at land tenure and property rights reform affect
women’s rights to land. This study focused on a set of recent and existing land projects and how they dealt
with gender. The results are based on a review of project literature, as well as interviews with project
personnel and donor project managers. The outcomes are presented within the context of a “project cycle” of
preparation/design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation. To the degree possible, they are also
couched in how successful projects were at incorporating the socio-cultural context in which they occurred.
The analysis presented here contains elements of successful projects that have strengthened women’s access
to and control over land.

In 2004 USAID developed a Land Tenure and Property Rights (LTPR) Framework. The Framework includes
a Matrix of land tenure and property rights constraints that are organized in five categories: (1) conflict and
instability, (2) unsustainable natural resource management, (3) insecure property rights, (4) landlessness, and

(5) poorly performing land markets. These categories are intersected by six broad intervention areas: (1) key
institutional arrangements, (2) mechanisms for conflict and dispute resolution, (3) legal and regulatory
framework, (4) land redistribution, (5) land administration, and (6) land use management and conservation.
This Matrix serves to frame the universe of LTPR issues and interventions, and guides the overall parameters
of this study. It primarily focuses on land and this study contributes to improving our use of the Matrix in
land tenure reform and programming.

The fundamental principle that underlies this study is that secure property rights are the cornerstone of
transformational development. Secure land tenure and property rights confer direct economic benefits—as a
key input into agricultural production, as a source of income from rental or sale, and as collateral for
investment activities that support participation, consumption, or investments.

Gender discrimination is related to lower per capita income, life expectancy, and literacy. The problem of
gender inequity is a difficult one for development projects to address due to the deep cultural bias against
women and the political ramifications of dealing with this sensitive issue. Women may not fully participate in
these benefits as members of a household if they do not share secure, formal, or customarily recognized
property rights over land or housing. Secure property rights for women is an important development issue
because property rights impact intrahousehold decision making, income pooling, and household acquisitions.
They are critical for women, particularly when the household breaks down for reasons of war, male
migration, divorce, illness, and death.

For gender differences to be fully addressed, the differences must be addressed as part of assessment prior to
project design, in project design, in implementation methodology, and in project monitoring and evaluation
activities. We have to learn how to institutionalize these lessons, and capture best practices as a regular part of
a knowledge management system that supports “learning by doing” and “doing better next time.”


Norms and practices that determine the status of women in the household and in the community will have an
effect on any land project. Cultural and social factors will not necessarily be uniform across a project area and
they may have different implications depending on whether the household is male- or female- headed. Norms
related to lineage, marriage practices, inheritance, and property rights are all critical. Projects are generally
able to make little difference to cultural norms; however, land projects may influence those practices that deal
with inheritance and property rights when they are supported by strong laws (e.g., Laos and Honduras). The
degree of influence a project can have on cultural norms can also relate to the particular cultural practice in

question (Laos), the degree of training and communication the project engages in (Honduras), the project’s
chosen methodologies (Bolivia), the degree of funding, and the strength of the formal law (Philippines).

When designing a LTPR project, women’s lower status and community lineage and marriage practices must
be taken into account. Projects should aim to understand and accommodate the different socio-cultural
factors affecting gender differentiated land rights in each community in which they work. This information
on tenure relations should form part of any social assessment that occurs prior to design or as part of project
work planning. While projects often cannot meaningfully influence customary practices, they must
understand how to work within them.


Failure to include gender in project assessment and design limits the project’s ability to address gender
inequities, and sometimes perpetuates or exacerbates them. When gender was considered in the design phase,
especially when this included speaking to potential beneficiaries, the project was much more likely to
meaningfully include women throughout the project and to monitor women’s involvement (e.g., Cambodia).
Those projects that incorporated the knowledge and concerns of local women in the design phase had
impressive results (Cambodia, Namibia, Laos Phase II, Philippines). Some projects (Bolivia and Laos) failed
to properly include women in the project design but later attempted to integrate women once the project had
begun because it became apparent that women were not only being ignored by the project but also that
women’s existing rights were being taken away.

Those projects that assess and plan for gender differences from the beginning are better able to include
women in the project and treat them equally. However, even projects that consider women after the design
phase can at least show some, though lesser, success. The best ways to ensure that women benefit from a
land intervention is to identify or hire a gender expert, include women in the design process, and include
gender analysis in social assessments and in pre-implementation information gathering. A project will be more
likely to have a successful implementation if a gender strategy is explicitly articulated during the design phase.


Generally, implementation of a gender strategy was found to be more difficult than expected. However,
understanding the different cultural practices that affect women across the project area can foster women’s
participation (e.g., Honduras). In addition, even though land rights projects are mostly based on formal land
laws, successful projects benefited from considering issues not necessarily within the bounds of the formal
law like non-ownership rights (e.g., use rights), relationships between men and women other than marriage,
and individual rather than household titling.

Training and educating both beneficiaries and staff on the specific issue of women’s land rights is the best
strategy for including women in project implementation. Trainings must address cultural norms, should
include women and men (though seldom at the same time), should meaningfully include women in project
activities, and must accurately identify all different types of property rights and the holders of those property
rights within a household.


Monitoring a project’s impact on gender has a significant effect on the ability of projects to include women.
Gender monitoring and evaluation across most of the projects tended to be ad hoc and sporadic. This was the
case for data collected on the impact of the project on women (e.g., Honduras, Bolivia, Laos Phase I, Peru).
Some projects collected sex-disaggregated data throughout the project (Namibia, Cambodia, Philippines).
Half of the projects conducted an “end of project evaluation”, but only one did so again five years after
completion to assess the medium-range impact of the project’s interventions.

The collection of appropriate sex-disaggregated data before, during, and after project implementation is
necessary for all land projects and should be a priority. Without monitoring land projects specifically for their
impact on women and men separately, it is impossible to know whether the project is achieving its objectives.
Monitoring allows projects to make mid-project adjustments where necessary, and to improve overall success.
Additionally, sex-disaggregated monitoring can have a broader impact because it can educate various
stakeholders on the results, and thus the value, of efforts to include women. Projects should conduct a
comprehensive baseline study to capture the gender issues and potential impacts before project interventions
take place and preferably before critical project methodologies and targets are determined. Projects should
also analyze sex-disaggregated data throughout the life of the project to be able to adequately adjust
methodologies and targets. Donors need to do a better job of setting aside funds to measure the impacts of
projects if significant lessons are to contribute to improvements in a LTPR project cycle.


This study illustrates that, as a rule, the rights and needs of women are not considered in land tenure and
property rights programming. Where they are included, the process of engaging women and the outcomes of
the project efforts are not captured with consistency or rigor, and are not readily available for review.

The few projects that did make an effort to include women in the project design, implementation, and/or
monitoring and evaluation, teach us some valuable lessons. Some of these lessons are captured in this report.
But we have to go beyond generalities and design a strategy for developing and implementing LTPR projects
for the benefit of both women and men. This will require tailoring a specific set of efforts wherein LTPR
projects expressly reach out to women.

This review is the first in a series of USAID activities designed to gather lessons from land tenure projects
funded by the US government and other donors; and rather than exhaustive, this review of a 15 land-related
projects informs future programming. USAID is using this study to launch a series of more focused
examinations of LTPR programming and gender. Between 2005 and 2007, the Agency started to examine
gender as part of its work on land tenure programming in Angola, Burundi, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Uganda.
These countries were chosen based on opportunity (the missions were interested in including a gender focus
on different aspects of their economic growth, good governance, and investing in people work). In addition,
each mission had launched a land initiative and was keen to improve their land programming efforts and their
specific impacts on women. Each gender-focused activity is tailored to the realities of the individual countries
(in many cases post-conflict and with high incidence of HIV/AIDS) and undertaken by a team of LTPR
gender experts. Most activities included the gathering of disaggregated information and data on women and
men and their participation and contribution to the household economy based on their rights to land.

These focused efforts are starting to yield results that can further assist in the development of lessons and
best practices for property rights (LTPR) reform. The patterns that are emerging suggest the construction of
a more specific set of tools and questions that can be used to inform assessments, and contribute to better
project design, implementation, and monitoring. The efforts are also beginning to suggest ways in which we
can improve the sequencing of interventions and use impact assessment tools to determine how projects
impact men and women differently. Moreover, the results that emerge from these projects will contribute to a
greater appreciation of how men and women need to be addressed differently within the universe of potential
property rights issues and interventions. The set of tools and the lessons that are emerging from this gender
work should improve our understanding and use of the LTPR Matrix, and should contribute to a better
engagement of the LTPR framework in future property rights reform.


Women’s access to land and housing, and the type and strength of women’s rights to land and housing, have
been recognized as an important development issue. Secure property rights for women can have an impact on
intra-household decision making, income pooling and acquisition, and women’s overall role and position in
the household and community. Moreover, land is a particularly critical resource for a woman when the
household breaks down; for example, in the event of male migration, war, abandonment, divorce,
polygamous relationships, illness (e.g., HIV/AIDS), or death. A review of the gender-related development
index (UNDP 2006) reveals a strong correlation between human development indicators in general and
gender development indicators in most countries. In other words, gender discrimination seems strongly
related to lower per capita income, life expectancy, and literacy.

In development planning, when women’s rights are explicitly taken into account and they participate in the
design and implementation of a policy, equity is increased. In many cases, increased gender equality can also
lead to increased economic equality (Moock, 1976; Meinzen-Dick and others, 1997). As a cornerstone of
development programming, secure land ownership confers direct economic benefits as a key input into
agricultural production, as a source of income from rental or sale, and as collateral for credit that can be used
for either consumption or investment purposes. However, women may not fully participate in these benefits
as members of a household if they do not share secure, formal, or customarily recognized property rights
over the land and/or housing. In fact, women can lose their informal rights to land when land ownership is
formalized through the titling process. This occurs, for example, when titles are issued in the name of the
head of the household only (most often a male) and he chooses to sell the land without his wife’s knowledge
or approval.

Recently there have been a number of studies funded by international development agencies looking at
women’s land and property rights within the context of development projects and programs. The World
Bank published a book that examined women’s involvement in and benefit from four of its land
administration projects from a legal, customary, and institutional perspective.1

1 World Bank. 2005. Gender Issues and Best Practices in Land Administration Projects: A Synthesis Report. Washington, DC: World Bank.

 UN Habitat has finished a
desktop research paper that looked at gender concerns related to joint tenure and other forms of group

2 UN Habitat. 2005. Shared Tenure Options for Women: A Global Overview. Nairobi: UN Habitat.

 In addition, the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) published a book on women,
property rights, and inheritance that looked at the impact of AIDS on women’s property rights in sub-
Saharan Africa.3

3 Strickland, Richard. 2004. To Have and to Hold: Women's Property and Inheritance Rights in the Context of HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Washington DC: ICRW.

 The Center on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) published a study on women’s
inheritance rights in sub-Saharan Africa.4

4 Center on Housing Rights and Evictions. 2004. Bringing Equality Home: Promoting and Protecting the Inheritance Rights of Women. Geneva:

Other studies that have informed and motivated this paper are the book by Carmen Diana Deere and
Magdalena Leon5

5 Deere, Carmen Diana and Magdalena Leon. 2001. Empowering Women: Land and Property Rights in Latin America. Pittsburgh: University of
Pittsburgh Press.

 on empowerment and women’s land rights in Latin America; Bina Agarwal’s work on
women’s rights to land in southern Asia including her most recent book;6

6 Agarwal, Bina. 2002. Are we not peasants too? Land rights and women’s claims in India. New York: Population Council.

 and numerous studies in sub-
Saharan Africa such as Ann Whitehead and Dzodzi Tsikata’s7

7 Whitehead, Ann and Dzodzi Tsikata. 2003. “Policy Discourse on Women’s Land Rights in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Implications of the
Return to the Customary, in Journal of Agrarian Change,” Vol. 3, Nos. 1 & 2 (pp. 67-112).

 article on the shifting nature of women’s rights
within customary tenure systems, Cheryl Walker’s8

8 Walker, Cheryl. 2003. “Piety in the Sky? Gender Policy and Land Reform in South Africa” in Journal of Agrarian Change, Vol. 3, Nos. 1 & 2
(January & April), pp. 113-148.

 and Ruth Hall’s9

9 Hall, Ruth. 2003, “’Farm Tenure’, Cape Town: Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies,” School of Government, University of the
Western Cape (Evaluating Land and Agrarian Reform in South Africa series; No. 13).

 articles on land reform in South Africa,
and Allison Goebel’s10

10 Goebel, Allison. 2005. Gender and Land Reform: The Zimbabwe Experience. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

 article on land reform in Zimbabwe.

In 2004, USAID put together a Land Tenure and Property Rights (LTPR) Framework, a set of tools that
guides USAID through future property rights programming. As part of the LTPR Framework, USAID
developed a LTPR Matrix (see Figure 1) that is meant to provide a menu of land tenure and property rights
constraints and interventions that need to be considered within the realm of land tenure and property rights.
While the set of tools looks at land tenure and property rights more broadly, it was thought that a focused
look at existing land projects (USAID as well as other donors’ projects) and how they deal with gender
concerns might help inform USAID’s Framework as how to best incorporate gender issues in all aspects of
work in land tenure and property rights.


The LTPR Matrix - Top or columns show categories of constraints, and rows indicate the policy or programmatic interventions
Tenure and
Conflict or
Legal &
Land Use
Planning &
This study attempts to further the body of work on gender relations and land tenure and property rights by
examining successful interventions that have improved and strengthened women’s access to and control over
land. In this way, the study seeks to identify best practices and lessons learned with regard to integrating
gender concerns and focus in relation to the five broad categorizations of land constraints identified in
USAID’s LTPR Matrix. These are:

• Conflict and/or instability that impact land rights,
• Insecure tenure rights,
• Landlessness and land redistribution,
• Land markets and their influence on communal and individual ownership, and
• Natural resources (pastures, wetlands, forests) management.

The utility of this study is to identify a set of questions that might be asked by practitioners in state agencies,
donor agencies, and projects to determine whether the gender concerns of a land issue have been properly
and adequately addressed, and to identify what has worked and why (see Appendix A). This study does not
focus only on successful projects and programs, but rather seeks to find those specific “project practices”
(whether in design, implementation, or monitoring and evaluation) that effectively deal with gender equity.

Whether or not land projects have a positive effect on women’s land and property rights and their welfare will
depend on the design of the project, the specific circumstances of the project setting (the context), integration
of and participation by women, and the ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the project’s effectiveness or
impact for women. There is significant gap in our knowledge of how LTPR projects affect women’s rights to

land. The collection of appropriate sex-disaggregated data before and during project implementation is
necessary for all land projects and should be a priority given the investments in the land sector. State
programs and policymakers, as well as international development agencies could benefit from collecting
“project practice” information and developing illustrative case studies about gender sensitive interventions,
processes, and outcomes.


The methodology for this study consisted of desk research undertaken by a sociologist and a lawyer with
considerable experience in land issues and gender.11

11 The desk research was to be complemented by interviews with key project personnel located in Washington. Unfortunately, most of
these key staff persons had either left the project agency or were located overseas.

 The study considered different types of land and
property interventions and the specific implementation practices utilized and developed to achieve a positive
outcome for women. The categories of LTPR interventions considered in the LTPR Matrix are:

• Good governance (e.g., involvement in decision making and services related to land),
• Conflict resolution (e.g., post-conflict reconstruction, land and resource conflict management),
• Legal and regulatory framework (e.g., tenure reform),
• Land and resource redistribution (e.g., low-income housing development),
• Land administration (e.g., land titling and registration), and
• Land use management and natural resources conservation (e.g., community-based natural resource
management, urban settlement upgrading).

While the researchers tried to collect case studies representing all six of these interventions, only land
administration programs and natural resource management programs that addressed gender issues in relation
to women and land could be identified. Within these two types of projects there were components dealing
with good governance, conflict resolution, legal frameworks, and land and resource distribution, but the
primary focuses of the projects chosen were either land administration or natural resource management.

The criteria used to select types of land and property interventions were those that directly affect women’s
access to and rights to land, natural resources tied to land (such as forests, wetlands, and pastures), and/or
housing. Project interventions that did not actively and directly impact on women’s rights and access to land
and property were not considered.


When selecting projects related to the above issues, we attempted to take into consideration specific project
contexts in order to have a broad set of conditions under which women access land and housing, and exercise
their rights. These include urban and rural settings, societies that rely principally on formal law and those that
also rely on customary or religious law, matrilineal and patrilineal systems, and marriage practices (patrilocal
and matrilocal). We identified potential projects/case studies using the following steps:

1. An ad hoc working group was organized representing USAID, Millennium Challenge Corporation
(MCC), and World Bank staff that deal with land and gender issues.12

12 The working group consisted of Gregory Myers, Richard Strickland, Joan Atherton, and Lena Herron from USAID; Waafas Ofosu-Amaah
from the World Bank; and Jolyne Sanjak and Kendra Koch from the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

 This group met with the two
researchers in October 2005, at which time the criteria for selection of projects and relevant gender
project interventions were agreed upon. A tentative approach for identifying USAID projects and
collecting documentation was also decided.

2. Projects were identified that dealt with one or more of the five land issues, attempted to integrate gender
concerns, and represented different regions. Besides USAID-funded projects, those funded by the
World Bank, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Swedish International Development
Agency (SIDA), German Technical Cooperation Agency (GTZ), UK Department for International
Development (DFID), and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) were also
considered. Based on the researchers’ knowledge and experience, a review of documentation, and
communications with contacts in the different donor agencies, 43 projects were eventually identified
from different geographic regions. (Appendix B lists all the identified projects.)
3. From this initial set of 43 projects, 24 projects were selected based on whether they appeared to have
positive gender interventions such as:
• Women’s participation in project activities (as beneficiaries and/or implementers),
• Women’s participation in community governance,
• Women’s participation in policymaking and/or legislative reform,
• Project activities (other than legislation and policy) that improve women’s property rights and/or
access to land, and
• Positive changes in how state agencies (particularly those dealing with land) deal with gender issues.

For this set of 24 projects, we requested relevant project documentation (including project design,
implementation plans and reviews, socioeconomic studies undertaken, and monitoring and evaluation)
from the sponsoring agencies.

4. We were successful in obtaining adequate project documentation for only 10 projects. Several other
projects did provide adequate documentation, but it was clear in reviewing the documents that gender
was only mentioned, and there had been no follow-through. This documentation (as well as journal
articles, gray literature, and relevant country legislation available to the two researchers) was analyzed and
written up into case studies to best illustrate “positive” gender interventions (case studies are included in
Appendix A). Positive interventions were organized utilizing a set of criteria for each of the four project
phases (project interventions organized by criteria are outlined in Appendix C). These four project
phases under which we categorize interventions are:

• Gender focus during project design and preparation,
• Gender inclusion and integration during project implementation,
• Project context taken into account during design and implementation, and
• Monitoring and evaluation of gender integration and outcomes.

5. Information regarding best practices from these case studies was synthesized.

The next section contains the results of this synthesis, and the final section contains our recommendations
for USAID programming based on this analysis.


Before synthesizing the findings from our 10 case studies, the 10 projects should be put into the context of all
of the projects we reviewed. We initially cast our net very broadly to find projects related to land that also had
a gender component or emphasis. There were surprisingly few projects that included gender considerations at
all, and even fewer that did more than merely mention gender as one of the issues the project was to address.
Of the 10 that we reviewed in-depth, several considered gender only after the project had started, and it
became clear that women were not being served well by the project. Other projects started with a clear gender
plan, but follow-through was weak, primarily because the project did not include gender training or the local
staff did not understand or support the gender focus. While none of the 10 case studies we reviewed can be
considered ideal, most of them provide valuable lessons.

Using the criteria we developed under the methodology outlined above, we reviewed the documentation for
the 10 projects to determine what lessons could be learned from their experience in integrating gender issues
into their project design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation. The following sections present a
synthesis of our findings.

The problem of gender equity is a difficult one for projects to address because of deep cultural bias against
women and the political ramifications of dealing with this sensitive issue. For this reason, for gender
differences to be fully addressed, the differences must be addressed in project design; implementation
methodology, guidelines, and procedures; and monitoring and evaluation activities.


If gender issues are to be effectively integrated into a land project (or land component of a project), the
project design must explicitly include gender equity as one of the principal goals of the project, define
participation by and integration of women as an integral factor of implementation, and include gender
indicators as measures of success in monitoring and evaluation. Because of the cultural, social, and political
nature of gender and land, the project design should seriously and carefully consider including gender experts
in its implementation staff or contracting gender experts to routinely advise implementation staff.

The criteria we used to evaluate whether or not a project focused on gender during project preparation were:

• Gender is an integral part of project design and gender experts are integrated as staff or consultants.
• Gender analysis and gender-differentiated data collection is included in pre-implementation social
• Project staff gathers and uses knowledge of local women to design program and/or draft legislation.

We found that gender concerns and objectives were an integral part of the design of six of the 10 projects
that consciously focused on gender to any significant degree. Not surprisingly, these projects also included
gender experts in implementation staff (e.g., Honduras) or contracted gender experts throughout the project
to recommend gender strategies and monitor the project’s integration of gender issues (e.g., Namibia). When
gender concerns were considered in the design phase, especially when this consideration involved talking to
potential women beneficiaries, the project was much more likely to meaningfully include women throughout
the project and to monitor women’s involvement (e.g., Cambodia).

In the other four projects, gender was either not mentioned or simply mentioned as a concern in the project
design without specifying how it would be considered (Nicaragua, Laos Phase I, Bolivia, Ethiopia). The
project design did not contemplate hiring gender staff or contracting consultants.

Five of the 10 projects included an explicit gender analysis in the initial design, and most of those five
projects collected gender-differentiated data. Several projects collected only qualitative information by
interviewing women and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) working with women. No projects
undertook quantitative gender assessments during project design; Laos and Honduras did collect quantitative
data after implementation was in full swing when project staff became aware that women were being
disenfranchised. The other projects did not have a gender analysis, other than to articulate that there are
gender concerns, and did not include sex-disaggregated information or data to inform that concern.13

13 At least, we did not find gender-differentiated information in the project design or documents to support the design that we had access

already mentioned, early in the implementation of Phase I of the Laos project, awareness of the importance
of integrating gender issues became evident and was subsequently integrated into the design of Phase II.

It was not common for projects to include the knowledge and concerns of local women to design the project.
As a matter of fact, there was a general tendency to not include the knowledge and concerns of local
population groups at all. However, in the Cambodia, Namibia, and Philippines projects, all interviewed
women and included local women in their initial project research, leading to fairly impressive results. Because
of the inclusion of the Laos Women’s Union during the implementation of the first phase of the Laos project,
their input was included in design of Phase II.

As we will see, failure to include gender in project design limited the project’s ability to address potential
gender inequities, a failure that either perpetuated inequities or may have even exacerbated them. Pressure by
civil society in both Laos and Bolivia, several years after project implementation began, resulted in the project
addressing the problem that women were not only being ignored but that their property rights were being
taken away. These projects attempted to integrate gender into project activities and procedures with mixed
results. For example, Bolivia’s response was to implement ad hoc measures that increased the number of
women being titled, but at levels that were far below expectations. The second phase of the Laos project was
successful in including gender issues in its project design.


As there were differences in how gender issues were addressed in project design across our case studies, there
were also differences in the projects’ gender strategies during implementation. In general, the explicit
articulation of gender strategy in the design phase facilitated the projects’ inclusion of women in its activities
and their success in addressing gender issues. However, even when gender was included in the design phase,
implementation was often seen as more difficult than expected. Our criteria for gender inclusion and
integration during project implementation were broad, and all of the 10 projects we reviewed met at least one
of the criteria listed below:

• Gathers and uses knowledge of local women to implement program;
• Trains and educates project personnel, stakeholders, and beneficiaries regarding gender differences and
• Integrates personnel and beneficiary women into project components and activities;
• Provides incentives and motivation to project personnel, local authorities, and stakeholders for gender
focus and integration;
• Involves women in land-related activities (e.g., part of adjudication process; participation in education
campaigns, information meetings; natural resource management committees);
• Attempts to identify all property rights holders and/or resource users within households and within

• Involves women in project gain, so they understand and feel secure in their land rights;
• Promulgates or encourages legislation to include gender relations and differences; and
• Includes unintended or unanticipated, but positive, gender outcomes.

The Peru project explicitly involved women and integrated gender issues in the design phase, and from the
beginning of implementation, with the purpose of combating gender-biased cultural norms and improving
women’s status. Gender training sessions were conducted in the communities for both women and men.
Women were included in project personnel and as active participants. While there were no full-time gender
specialists, the project hired gender consultants to undertake periodic gender assessments. Consequently, the
project was open to revisiting its design and methodology over the course of the project to improve its
gender approach. For example, a revolving fund to be managed by women that was initially designed for one
activity (to produce improved pasture seed and tree seedlings) was quickly redesigned so that any incomegenerating
activity could be funded when community women suggested that the initial design was too
limiting. These revolving funds ended up being one of the more successful outcomes of the project.

The Peru project also explicitly encouraged the inclusion of women in its training of local technical specialists
and trainers (yachaq). The project found that different cultural practices across the project area with regard to
women’s mobility and education greatly influenced women’s participation in these technical training activities.
Although the number of trained men still far exceeded the number of women, the rate of women being
trained increased significantly over the course of the project.

While the Honduras project also included women in its project activities, the lack of a clear gender strategy
meant that women were initially limited to activities related to domestic chores. As gender assessments later
pointed out, women’s productive activities were not being addressed. The project’s approach was modified to
include women in its production components by encouraging women to undertake agricultural and non-farm

The Cambodia, Namibia, Panama, Philippines, and Bolivia projects all included women during project
implementation. Cambodia, Namibia, and the Philippines specifically focused on education of women
regarding their land rights. This focus on education had a major impact on women’s involvement in the
project, and several of the project documents postulate that focusing on educating women is critical to
involving women in land projects. Working with organizations that serve women (women’s NGOs) provided
an easy way to reach women in the community for several of the projects. Holding special trainings for
women also provided a mechanism to receive women’s input into the project, creating ongoing, two-way
communication. In the Philippines, over 40 percent of training participants were women.

While beneficiaries were trained in both Panama and the Philippines, training of project staff was limited or
lacking completely. The reasons for this included lack of funding for this training, and a belief that gender
mainstreaming did not require particular attention. However, training of project staff is critical for the success
of gender mainstreaming. Plans and designs will not be implemented unless there is staff buy-in. Most often
this requires training for, and communication with, the staff at all levels, from the top directors to field staff.
In both of these projects, the lack of gender training for staff led to less effective implementation of the
gender strategy. In Namibia, on the other hand, a full-time gender trainer was hired for two years to work
with both staff and beneficiaries.

As has often been observed, project implementers and local populations routinely ignore legislation that
mandates equal rights for women during actual implementation. However, projects that have a clear gender
strategy for implementation of its components and include gender training for staff and beneficiaries do
provide their staff with incentive and motivation for including women in on-the-ground implementation.
Gender training in Honduras also improved acceptance of women’s rights among local authorities and the
project population.

For projects to provide incentives to personnel, authorities, and stakeholders, there must be sex-disaggregated
monitoring of the results. In the project in Panama, the project documents indicated that while the staff

thought women had been very involved and had received positive benefit from the project, there was no
monitoring or tracking of these outcomes, and therefore they were not captured.

In some of the titling projects, women were involved in the titling activities such as information meetings and
parcel surveying. Titling staff in Bolivia were instructed to explicitly include women landholders, particularly
wives, in the adjudication process. These measures increased the number of women as titleholders. In the
land-titling component of the Honduras project, gender specialists were able to quickly discern that women
were not being titled, and the project took measures to actively encourage families to include wives as
titleholders. The area titled by the project included more women than any other area in Honduras.

Project assessments and focus group discussions in Bolivia and Honduras indicated that gender-sensitive
procedures and gender training resulted in women informed of their property rights, and a more secure sense
of their ownership rights.

In the Peru project, the titling modality was to title community land collectively, not to individual persons or
households. In this case, following rural titling norms in Peru, all adult members, both women and men,
married and single, were included in the census, not just household heads. The recognition of all adult
members as community members is favorable to women compared to the prevalent practice of only
registering the household head, who is generally male.

One area where there is not much information is in the area of identifying all holders of property rights. In
many countries women have rights to land that fall short of ownership-like rights (right to gather firewood,
for example). There does not appear to have been much effort to understand, on the ground, what property
rights women had that may have been different from men. The three exceptions are Panama, Philippines, and

In Panama, the social assessment included a gender focus to: (1) identify significant issues surrounding land
tenure for each gender; (2) provide data needed to address existing disparities and discriminatory factors; and

(3) facilitate actions that favor women’s access to land and ownership. In the Philippines, there was an effort
made to address the issue of unmarried couples. If couples are not legally married, and the land is in the name
of the male only, women often do not have a legal right to the land. In many countries, especially in rural
areas, couples do not legally marry. In the Philippines, this issue was addressed so that unmarried women
would be included on land titles. In Namibia, there appears to have been some effort to identify women’s
rights in the context of natural resource management, but the documents do not directly describe that effort.

With regard to land legislation, most of the projects (Peru, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ethiopia, Namibia, Panama)
did not involve enacting or modifying legislation. The Laos Women’s Union did undertake activities to
improve women’s legal land rights by encouraging gender-sensitive legislation. The Honduras project worked
proactively with the Honduras Titling Agency to use the limited gender-related legislation (articles in the land
law and regulations) to its fullest extent in order to include wives on land titles. In the Philippines, the gender mainstreaming
plan encompassed the whole project cycle from influencing legal reforms, to installing gender sensitive
monitoring and evaluation systems. In Cambodia, the project recommended that legislation be
adopted to ensure women’s rights to a fair and equitable division of land in the event of divorce or
inheritance and legal guarantees that ensure their access to fair and impartial dispute resolution. Passing
legislation that improves women’s land rights is important, but is only a small step in making actual changes.
The experiences of the projects in this overview highlight the usefulness of designing project practices and
dispute resolution methods that make current legal codes and land administration systems more effective for women.

Several of the projects had positive gender outcomes that were not anticipated. In Honduras, where couples
in rural areas are generally in consensual unions, the promotion of joint titles encouraged couples, particularly older couples, to recognize the stability of their relationship and to legally marry. In fact, the project organized mass civil weddings in many communities at the request of couples. Many women felt that legal recognition of their married status improved their rights as wives.

In Bolivia, it was found that rural women often did not possess official identity documents. In order to title
women, the project has worked with local officials to facilitate the issuance of these documents to women.
These personal identity documents are valuable to women since they are now able to participate in other
activities (such as requesting credit) and governance processes such as voting.

In Ethiopia, the project required mandatory joint titling and that a picture of the husband and wife
accompany the title to land. The desire for the pictures was not directly related to women’s land tenure, but
the pictures had the result of improving women’s land tenure security. Mandatory joint titling also assisted


Project areas and communities have different social and cultural characteristics, some directly related to
gender and others that influence gender relations. We looked at whether projects took these characteristics
into consideration in their efforts to integrate women into their land projects. There are endless examples of
projects that have not considered these issues and therefore failed to reach women or improve their lives. The community characteristics we were interested in tracking were as follows:

• Strength of customary and formal laws (weak, strong, very strong);
• Matrilineal or patrilineal and matrilocal or patrilocal;14

14 Matrilocal means that the husband moves to his wife’s family’s home, and patrilocal means that the wife moves to her husband’s family’s

• Inheritance practices;
• Marital property practices;
• Urban, rural, or peri-urban areas;
• Ethnic affiliation (majority or minority);
• Female-headed households; and
• Male out-migration,

Many of the projects did not specifically refer to these local characteristics, although there were often
comments to the effect that implementation varied depending on cultural and geographic areas within the
country or project area.

Probably the primary set of cultural characteristics that will have an influence on project implementation for women are the norms and practices that determine the status of women in the household and the community. These include lineage (whether families are patrilineal or matrilineal) and marriage practices
(patrilocal or matrilocal). Women in matrilineal and/or matrilocal societies tend to have higher status than
women in patrilineal and/or patrilocal societies; however, women seldom have equal status under any system.
We found that most of the projects15

15 We have no information on this issue for Nicaragua beyond the project design.

 acknowledged the lower status of women due to lineage and marriage
practices, and did attempt to take this gender constraint into consideration. Projects also found that they were able to make little difference in the gender relations supported by these practices.

Related to lineage and marriage practices are those that determine inheritance and marital property rights.
While formal law may give women equal inheritance rights as daughters and equal rights to maritalproperty
as wives, customary practices often disregard these legal rights, recognizing only sons as heirs of landed
property and only husbands as owners of property acquired by couples. The Laos, Honduras, and Bolivia projects became aware of this discrepancy between formal and customary practices after the project was in full swing. All three made modifications in procedures and staff training in attempts to recognize women’s
legal rights, particularly that of wives. Laos and Honduras seemed to be much more successful in titling women than Bolivia for different reasons. Laos incorporated a women’s organization with national coverage into their procedures and activities. Another factor that contributed to Laos’ success is their bilateral inheritance practice—this means that women as property holders are culturally accepted. Honduras was very effective in titling wives, in spite of strong inheritance and marital property practices that excluded women,
because the project held gender training programs for project staff, government titling staff, beneficiary
population, and local authorities. They also reviewed Honduras titling procedures to make them more
accessible to and inclusive of women. Bolivia’s attempts were ad hoc and scattered, diminishing their impact.

In the Philippines, strong formal law, including funding for gender programs, seems to have had an impact
on the equally strong customary law. While in many cases customary law affects how stringently civil law is enforced, in other cases, civil law is enforced yielding equality of rights for women. The Philippine project struggled to balance their efforts to include women and their need to also include and train men. At one point, they focused more on women than men, also to the detriment of the program. If men are to be
“brought along” and included in making cultural changes, they also must be involved in trainings and the design of the project.

Customary law that encourages male ownership of land and discourages female ownership of land has a
major influence on implementation of land projects. Even though the Philippine project integrated gender
concerns from the very beginning of the project, without a clear mandate from management—particularly from the project management office (PMO)—staff were unwilling to jointly title land.

Customary law may negatively influence the success of a project in incorporating women due to the lack of female organizations and ability of women to meet together. In some countries, women’s inferior status
means that they need permission to meet with other women, or that they are simply not allowed to attend
meeting or trainings outside of the home.16

16 While we did not find this in our 10 case studies, in fieldwork Giovarelli conducted in Karnataka, India and Tajikistan this was a major
issue for women.

Often projects cover areas with different social characteristics such as rural-urban areas and different ethnic
affiliations. The strength of customary practices will vary in rural and urban areas and across ethnic groups.
Or the customary practices themselves may vary. Generally, the projects did not really deal with this issue.
Bolivia did prepare audio-visual information materials in local languages for different geographical areas—thi