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1.1 Access to land is a central issue because it is a crucial asset for food production and a key factor for shelter and community development. How issues related to rights of access are addressed in development projects and programmes has a direct impact on the livelihood and security of people not only in rural areas, but in urban and peri-urban settings as well. Failure to address the land tenure interests of all stakeholders in land development or land reform can cause problems and inequities. These problems can unintentionally fall on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of society.1 Land administration professionals therefore should be aware of gender issues relating to access to land.

1.2 For this guide, discussion1 is not restricted to access to land alone, but also includes access to other natural resources, such as water and trees, which may be essential for people’s livelihoods. For convenience, “access to land” is used here to include access to other natural resources as well.

1.3 Women, the elderly, minorities and other sometimes marginalized groups can be at risk in land reform and land administration projects. Very often, when land values increase as a result of external investments, women get marginalized in the process, and risk losing former benefits and accommodating situations. Women can be at risk even if it is intended that they share the benefits. For example, improving irrigation on women’s fields may have the unintended effect that these now more valuable fields are reclaimed by men in the community.2 Enhancing housing in a community or peri-urban area may have similar unintended results when the units become more marketable.3 Children and the elderly may also suffer although the original intention was to provide inclusion.

1.4 The purpose of these guidelines is thus:

While this guide is directed primarily towards land administrators, its contents should also be relevant to those working in broader development projects and programmes.

1.5 The guide aims to show where and why gender inclusion is important in projects and programmes that aim at improving land tenure and land administration arrangements. It provides material to raise awareness of some of the most critical gender issues that threaten access to land and its benefits. The guide emphasises the importance of developing a better understanding of the situation for men and women when societies are undergoing great economic, social, and environmental pressures. It identifies indicators for measuring the quality and quantity of access to land and housing before, during, and after an intervention to help inform decisions.

1.6 In no way, however, are these guidelines to be considered exhaustive. If there is a common variable in all the information accumulated in this research, it is the complexity of the issues involved. No general outline fits all circumstances in the international development field.

1.7 Chapter 2 begins with a working definition of what is meant by access to land and security of tenure and describes their importance in rural and urban settings. Chapter 3 illustrates why gender is an important issue for land reform and land administration. Chapter 4 lists some key indicators that can be used in land administration to evaluate and monitor gender-related access to land. Chapter 5 outlines recommended principles for land administration projects from the perspective of national and international organizations while Chapter 6 gives more detailed principles for land administration professionals. Finally Chapter 7 presents conclusions.

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