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Women’s land rights and village councils in Tanzania



This paper studies the land property rights of married women using a diagnostic survey on women’s land property rights and Village Councils in rural Tanzania (VI-LART). Women own little property independently of their husbands. This puts them at particular risk of property deprivation in the events of divorce or widowhood. Our paper provides evidence that, despite statutory laws providing for gender neutral rights, customary patrilineal practices still play a large role in rural Tanzania. We find that the presence of children and their genders matter for inheritance expectations and that women’s inheritance rights remain fragile against claims from male members of the deceased husband’s clan. We show that village leaders of both genders have non-gender neutral views, and are therefore likely to reinforce traditional patrilineal practices.



Garance Genicot and Maria Hernandez-de-Benito, Georgetown University

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