By: Betty Mutesi (International Alert)

Date: August 23rd 2016

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation

Rwanda's women have equal rights in law. But the government and regular Rwandans must confront the country's systems of discrimination

In rural Rwanda, as in most developing countries, owning and controlling land determines whether you are rich or poor. In a country where some 57% of the population live below the poverty line, land is a prime resource.

Having right to own land not only allows you to feed your family, but to be able to secure your wellbeing and have a place in society. While secure land rights may not be a silver bullet for eradicating poverty, they do lay the foundation for access to education, healthcare, sanitation, microfinance and more.

Despite an emphasis on women’s inclusion in Rwandan politics, a recent study by International Alert found a distinctive culture of patriarchy in decision-making over land use in the country. Sadly, women with no or insecure land rights have less household bargaining power as well as less ability to access the resources listed above.

Our study found that, on the one hand, decisions about day-to-day agricultural management, such as land use, choice of crops and selection of agricultural inputs were either joint decisions or taken by the wife.

However, decisions regarding money were taken only by men. Men decided how to use profits from the sale of harvests or from the lease and sale of lands. And men also managed bananas and coffee – the more profitable crops – while women managed legumes and potatoes.

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