Introduction This report addresses the current situation for women’s land rights in Rwanda. Women’s land rights in Rwanda have been included as a specific issue in the CEDAW Committee’s List of issues and questions in relation to the combined seventh to ninth periodic reports of Rwanda (UN Doc. CEDAW/C/RWA/Q/7-9, at para 20). In the recent (2016) Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee on Rwanda, the Committee noted that it is “concerned about information received that women’s legal rights to land and inheritance are undermined by the continuation of discriminatory traditional practices in rural areas and about reports on the high proportion of unregistered marriages (art. 3)” (UN Doc. CCPR/C/RWA/CO/4, at para 11). It went on to recommend that The State party “Step up its efforts to combat stereotypes on the role of women in the family and in society, including by increasing awareness - raising measures in rural areas,” and “take appropriate measures to ensure that marriages are registered” UN Doc. CCPR/C/RWA/CO/4, at para 12 (b) and (c)).
Rwanda is known as one of the most progressive states in Africa in terms of gender equality and women’s rights. After the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, the government of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) prudently decided to make this a priority during the rebuilding process by establishing laws that protect the rights of women and emphasize the importance of gender equality in social and economic development. Rwanda was the among the first countries to enact a law that provides for equal inheritance rights for both the girl and boy child, law N° 22/99 of 12/11/1999, that institute matrimonial regimes, liberalities and successions. Of a particular interest in this law, are the equal inheritance rights of women and girls to those of men and boy child. However, some authors argue that “Some men believe that the law is unjust, and will allow women to benefit from land from two sources: their parents and their husbands” (Musahara, 2006). Some studies also claim that this provision has been a source of land disputes, especially intra-family1 disputes, mainly due to land scarcity but also due to the increases in land values that occurred in Rwanda after land registration(RISD, 2014).
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Rwanda Initiative for Sustainable Development (RISD)
Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR)
ActionAid Rwanda (AAR)
Summary: Contains sections on the effects on women of Rwanda’s civil war, the legal system, the gap between customary law and land legislation, research findings about Rwandan women’s rights, a number of dispute case studies, including methods of dispute settlement. Argues that a gap exists between customary and modern legal systems, creating both land access opportunities and constraints for women. Demonstrates the creativity with which women are bridging that gap in a state of legal uncertainty. Suggests government officials should achieve land policy and legislation that specifies and guarantees women’s land rights in theory and practice.Date: November 2004 [Please download the full document] Source: Texas Journal of Women and Law, 13, 2, 2004, 197-250 (Laurel L. Rose, Carnegie Mellon University)