n South African Journal on Human Rights - Elusive equality : women, property rights and land reform in South Africa

Volume 25, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0258-7203



This article explores the conceptual and applied challenges that arise in addressing, firstly, land as a socio-economic right and secondly, women as a social category, and then reviews what is currently in place with regard to gender equality in land rights, in terms of the Constitution and at the level of state policy and implementation. Land rights constitute a distinctive category of socio-economic rights and the relationship between stronger land rights and enhanced well-being (for both men and women) is not a simple and unmediated one. At the same time, women's interests in land are not uniform but are shaped by complex intersections among various issues, including the broader economic context, their social location, and the effects of social change on family forms and household structure. In the South African case, given general problems with the state's programme of land reform, the question of what it means to infuse the principle of equitable property rights, more specifically land rights, with substantive equality is still an open one. Substantive gender equality in relation to land can also not be separated from other struggles for socio-economic rights.

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