Land reform and gender in Zimbabwe
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The issue of land and gender has not been of interest to policy makers until recently. This was due to the fact that in Africa and even in Victorian Europe land was considered a male domain and thus its implications on women has not been an issue. Yet there is a growing body of evidence showing that the issue of land and gender cannot be dealt with separately since this has implications on access to and control of land in Africa. It should be noted however that much of the literature on the land issue in Zimbabwe and elsewhere in Africa has focussed on how the colonialist forcibly moved indigenous people from the fertile lands and their subsequent impoverishment. Very little is said about the impacts of these forced evictions on the woman, thus creating a gender dimension in land issue discussions. There is therefore need for a clear understanding of the implications of the forced removals of the indigenous people from their land on marginalised groups, of which women form the majority. The lack of consideration of gender implications in discussions on the land issue and failure of subsequent land reform programmes instituted by government to take gender into account, are rooted in a cultural context of the people. This chapter looks at land reform and the gender challenges in Zimbabwe. It is divided into four sections. The first section deals with definitions, while the second section attempts to situate women’s land rights in the land reform programme. The third section deals with the issue of policy implications on mainstreaming gender into the land reform programme. The section pays special attention to the impact of gender-insensitive policies on women and the land reform programme. The fourth section provides policy recommendations on how the land reform programme in Zimbabwe could mainstream gender and thus take cognisance of the majority of the marginalised people.