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From Under Their Feet: A Think piece on the gender dimensions of land grabs in Africa


This paper was commissioned by ActionAid and serves as a think-piece to build our understanding of the gendered implications of the recent wave of large-scale land acquisitions and investments, particularly in Africa.

It aims to provide a basis for further development of policy proposals and recommendations that address the issue from a developmental and gender equality perspective. Understanding the implications for rural women’s land rights and rights to development and a livelihood is essential for the design of meaningful policy demands that tackle negative impacts of large-scale land acquisitions and actually work for women.

The paper builds on joint work by ActionAid and its local partners in Southern Africa and in the Netherlands through the Women’s Land Rights (WOLAR) project, funded by the MDG3 Fund. Therewith it is informed by the growing engagement of rural women’s networks and associations from Southern Africa with the land grabbing agenda. It also draws on valuable desktop and field research, conducted by Nidhi Tandon in an unpublished report from 2011 titled ‘From Under Their Feet. Women and the land grab threat. Findings from Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia.’
We hope this paper helps with going beyond the general argument that rural women tend to be extra vulnerable for negative impacts of large-scale land acquisitions. It tries to do so by linking the impact analysis to broader development arguments, to women’s land rights concerns, as well as to the productive economies and the agricultural systems they sustain, to the care economy and to citizenship.

As this paper is part of an ongoing dialogue on understanding the gendered challenges that large-scale land acquisitions and land grabs bring along, we welcome any comments and discussions on the contents of the paper.