We work on systematic land titling projects around the world. Unfortunately, in many cases, the legal framework does not require joint titling for spouses. This is compounded by cultural norms that define men as landowners and decision-makers. In Zambia, for example, several women told enumerators that their husbands alone would determine whose name should be on the title. In situations where joint titling is supported by law, but culturally unknown or even prohibited, what are some effective, practical approaches for promoting joint titling to ensure that women also benefit from such programs?

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.