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Joint Tenure (5)

There is some research that says, “yes.”  A paper given at the 2018 World Bank Land Conference found that financial conditionality was motivation for joint titling.

Cherchi, Ludovica; Goldstein, Markus; Habyarimana, James; Montalvao, Joao; O’Sullivan, Michael; and Udry, Chris, “Incentives for Joint Land Titling: Experimental Evidence from Uganda,” 2018 World Bank Conference On Land And Poverty, The World Bank – Washington DC, March 19-23, 2018.

That research looked at conditionality and gender information as motivation for joint titling—together and separate—in Uganda. The research found that:

Imposing conditionality raised co-titling probability by 31% among gender uninformed HHs, and by 14% among informed HH.

  • Providing information raised co-titling probability by 16% among HH offered titles unconditionally, and no impact among HH offered titles conditionally.
  • Fully-subsidized land titles successfully generated high overall demand for titling, as well as for co-titling.
  • Imposing gender conditionality on subsidy raised demand for co-titling, without dampening overall demand for titling.
  • Providing additional gender information in isolation further raises demand for co-titling, though not as much as the conditionality, and has no impact on demand for titling.

A reduction in the stamp duty, for lands registered in the name of women, has encouraged women’s property ownership rights in some states in India (e.g. Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, and Delhi).

Yes. Here are two examples, but there are many more. Mozambique’s Family law (No 10/2004), states that immovable property, whether belonging to each spouse individually or as common property, may only be transferred to others with the express permission of both spouses. Section 40 of the Uganda Land Act states that spouses have the right to use, access and live on their husband’s land and they may withhold their consent to stop land transactions.

Several states in India have lowered the tax placed on legal documents usually in the transfer of assets or property (Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himchal Pradesh, Madya Pradesh, Maharastra, Punjab, and Utter Pradesh). In some states, if land is registered in the name of women, no (or reduced) stamp duty is charged. In other states, if a husband adds his wife to the title, no stamp duty is charged.

In Nepal, the government waives part of the land registration fee when land is registered in a woman’s name. The exemption started at 10 percent in 2006, increasing to 20 percent in 2007 and 25 percent in 2009. As a result, the amount of land registered in women’s names more than tripled. In Ghana, the number of documents registered by women in their own names in the deeds registration system increased substantially between 2005, when there were only two land registries in the whole country, and 2006, when land administration was decentralized and more registries were opened outside the capital. Decentralization was accompanied by a public awareness campaign, informing women and men about the opening of new deeds registry offices where they could register their documents (See, Governing land for women and men).

Other activities that encourage women’s names on documents include promoting the participation of women employees in the registration process and conducting public awareness campaigns that target women and inform them of the importance of land rights and registration, where rights can be registered and under which conditions – service fees, need of proof, etc.

Lao successfully encouraged women’s names to be included on documents by funding the Lao Women’s Union to educate and inform women of their rights. The Lao Women’s Union (LWU) is the official state organization that advocates for gender equity.  For a period of time, the LWU was a very active member of the titling brigades. Gender was integrated into the education, training and information dissemination activities at the village level by the LWU.

Be sure there are at least two signature lines on land documents.

From your question, I am not sure how much control you have over the design of the systematic land titling program, but for the purpose of this answer, I will assume that you have a reasonable level of influence over the design.

If possible, from the beginning it is helpful to involve local organizations or local government personnel who have regular positive contact with women in the community to understand the specific context of the area where systematic registration will take place. This can be as simple as a meeting with local women’s organizations or women leaders to discuss the project, provide information about the process and the law as it relates to women, and then to solicit their input and assistance on how best to ensure women know they have a right to be registered as joint or co-owners and how to implement that right. Identifying and involving women’s organizations will help throughout the project. Local organizations can influence men within households, create pressure to jointly register property, as well as oversee that women are included.

Another critical step will be to ensure that all the documents involved in systematic registration have room for at least two names. If there is only one signature line, only the head of household, usually a man, will sign.

Educating and training project personnel, stakeholders, and beneficiaries about the law and about the value and importance of women’s names being included on the documents is also critical. Beneficiaries, both men and women, will need to understand the process for registering, including, what is required for registration (are there identification documents required, for example) and how much it will cost. Registration personnel can be required to explain the law and to have all adults, who use the land in any capacity, present at the time of demarcation of the land

There are positive examples of incentives being offered for jointly registering property. For example, the cost for the registration can be lower for joint registration than individual registration. The stamp duty might be waived for joint registration, or other financial incentives can be provided.

Finally, if possible, having women as well as men hired as personnel on the project can encourage women to be more engaged. Being gender inclusive in hiring registrars, surveyors, and community educators is likely to lead to more women being named on documents.

Module 4 of the FAO technical guide: Governing Land for Women and Men provides a good checklist of practical steps that can be taken.

No. Very few countries have universal joint tenure, which means that all property brought into marriage or acquired in marriage in any manner is jointly held. A presumption of joint tenure for married couples means that there is a presumption that a married couple holds property acquired during marriage jointly. Often there are exceptions for property that is inherited or property that is gifted to one of the married couple. Thus, in most cases, even when married couples have joint tenure, ancestral land is excluded.

Some countries allow separate property to become joint property if the non-owner contributes to the value of the property (pays for improvements, for example).

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