Customary law and women's access to land and property in Zambia : A case study of shfwankankula village in nMungule's area

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Muchula, Silumesi
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Over the years, a lot of has been written on the subject of customary law and how it affects women's access to land and property in Zambia. It has generally been acknowledged by various scholars and researchers that women's access to land and property has generally been hindered by the various traditional customs which preclude women from owning land and property in their own right. The various writings and generalisations by these scholars and researchers have overtime left an impression in the minds of readers that customary law disadvantages women in as far as owning land and property is concerned. The general perception is that men have more access to land than women, and that women will generally have access to land only through their male relatives. This general perception of customary has to a large extent obscured the fact that customs and traditions in relation to women's ownership of land and property differ from one ethnic group to another, and that there also exists certain customs and traditions that in fact encourage women to own land and property. This paper attempts to show that there are some women in Zambia especially in the study area who have access to land and enjoy security of tenure, and own property in their own right. The results from the study which was carried out using semi-structured interviews with 10 women and 10 men of shifwankula village show that the majority of the women in the area were allocated land directly by the chief without going through their male relatives. The study further shows that more women than men owned land and had security of tenure in that they were able to have leasehold title to the land which they are occupying. Further, More women than men expressed interest in obtaining title to the land they are occupying, and more are in the process of obtaining such title without any obstacles.
Customary law , Women's rights