Knowledge Base


Welcome to the Women’s Land Rights (WLR) Help Desk’s searchable knowledge base. We post our responses to community submitted questions on this page. To submit a question use our online submission form.


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We organize questions and answers by category and they are sorted by the date posted (newest question at the top of each category). Some questions and responses will show up in multiple categories.

Misc. (2)

This is not an easy question. What works often depends on the context, and social norm change can take a long time. But there are some things we know:

  • The formal law can give the space for social norm change. If the law requires a norm change (daughters inheriting or quotas for local governance) change does begin to occur.[1]
  • When people in government/leadership do not see women’s rights specifically as a goal or see women’s exclusion as a problem that needs to be addressed, overall, gender awareness – or, specifically, awareness that women may have specific needs and expectations from reforms or require specific attention – among the government officials/local leaders can make a difference.[2]
  • Women’s participation in groups, such as self-help groups can change social norms and traditions, particularly those around women’s participation in agriculture[3]
  • Where social norms are deeply entrenched, it is critical to design interventions that include community leaders and those with the power to endorse change (most often men). Successful programs to reduce gender-based violence have enlisted community leaders and have sought endorsement from the broader community).[4]
  • Including women and youth in governance reduces the negative effects of male-only leadership (“similarities between the leadership and the general population in terms of gender and age, and active participation by women and young adults in community groups, alleviate the negative effects of heterogeneity and increase collective capacity, which in turn improves agriculture productivity and welfare.”)[5]
  • When women organise, when they form into groups and connect with others in larger groups, they are better able to make changes in their own lives, in their communities, in legislation, and in restrictive social and norms.[6]

For further reading:  Drivers of change in gender norms: An annotated bibliography

[1] Mansuri, Ghazala Rao, Vijayendra. 2012. Localizing Development: Does Participation Work?

[2] Anne M. Larson, Iliana Monterroso and Pamela Cantuarias, Gender and the formalization of native communities in the Peruvian Amazon, CIFOR, 2019;Kaa

[3] Raghunathan, Kalyani, et al. “Can Women’s Self‐Help Groups Improve Access to Information, Decision‐Making, and Agricultural Practices? The Indian Case.” Agricultural Economics, vol. 50, no. 5, 2019, pp. 567–580.

[4] Klugman, Jeni; Hanmer, Lucia; Twigg, Sarah; Hasan, Tazeen; McCleary-Sills, Jennifer; Santamaria, Julieth. 2014. Voice and Agency : Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity. Washington, DC: World Bank Group

[5] McCarthy, N., & Kilic, T. (2015). The nexus between gender, collective action for public goods and agriculture: Evidence from Malawi. Agricultural Economics, 46(3), 375-402.

[6] Hannay, L. (2016). “Peru Case Study,” in Gender and Collectively Held Land: Good Practices and Lessons Learned from Six Global Case Studies. Seattle: Resource Equity. Freudenburg, M. and Santos, F. (2013). “Enhancing Customary Justice Systems in the Mau Forest, Kenya: Impact Evaluation Report.” USAID.

Category: Misc.
  • Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Target 1.4: By 2030, aims to ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance.
  • Indicator 1.4.2: Proportion of total adult population with secure tenure rights to land, with legally recognized documentation, and who perceive their rights to land as secure, by sex and by type of tenure.
  • Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Target 5.a: Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws.
  • Indicator 5.a.1: (a) Proportion of total agricultural population with ownership or secure rights over agricultural land, by sex; and (b) share of women among owners or rights-bearers of agricultural land, by type of tenure.

The first place to look is on the UNSTAT website: Under Quick Links, go to SDG database: You will see at the bottom of that page that there is the ability to search for data on specific indicators, but indicator 1.4.2 and 5.a.1 do not have available data. However, if you click on metadata repository, it will take you to a page where the indicators are listed.

On that page click on SDG 1.4.2 and also 5.a.1, and you will go to a page for each that will describe the following:

  • Institutional Information (which institution is responsible for the data collection, etc.)
  • Concepts and Definitions
  • Methodology
  • Data Sources
  • Data Availability
  • Data Calendar
  • Data Providers
  • Data Compilers
  • References

“The custodians of 1.4.2 together with FAO and UN Women, custodians of 5.a.1, developed a standardized, consolidated and succinct survey instrument with essential questions as data collection requirements are partly similar. The standardization of indicator definitions improves data comparability across countries. The scope and capacity for standardized data collection, analysis and reporting across NSOs is expected to rise with progressive data collection and implementation of the methodology. The module will be made available to NSOs (National Statistic Offices) for integration in survey instruments already in place, and will be used by other international household survey programs working with NSOs, (such as LSMS and UIS). The module can be used by any other complementary survey instrument implemented by other actors, using a data collection protocol that meets SDG 1.4.2 requirements, while the data produced are approved and reported by NSO to the custodians. In addition, both the USAID and the Millennium Challenge Cooperation (MCC) have agreed to incorporate the essential questions from 5.a.1 and 1.4.2 into future land impact evaluations and has already done so for upcoming ones. The Property Rights Index initiative has integrated the SDG questions into its data collection tools on perceptions of tenure security. This range of efforts will further expand data availability and leverage efforts by NSOs to report on this indicator. Country-specific metadata will be elaborated that provides an inventory of the tenure types and type of documents in use, identifies which documents are legally recognized as evidence of land rights with images of each document, and elaborates on the correspondence between the two types of data sets (survey data and administrative data). This instrument will ensure consistency of definitions across countries. These country specific metadata will also be used for customizing surveys.” (emphasis added)

The Gender and Land Rights Statistical Database ( provides what data is available by country for the following indicators:

1f.           Distribution of Agricultural Holders by Sex (females)

1m.        Distribution of Agricultural Holders by Sex (males)

2f.           Distribution of Agricultural Landowners by Sex (females)

2m.        Distribution of Agricultural Landowners by Sex (males)

3f.            Incidence of Female Agricultural Landowners

3m.          Incidence of Male Agricultural Landowners

4f.            Distribution of Agricultural Land Area Owned by Sex (Females)

4m.          Distribution of Agricultural Land Area Owned by Sex (Males)

A technical note is available to explain the indicators, and you can view them by region or by country.

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