Gender and Land Rights Database


Civil society and indigenous people’s organizations advocating for equality of land rights

  • There are over 670 registered non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the country, many of which focus on and campaign for the rights of women. About 100 have programmes on women’s advancement and about 50 have specific programmes for women, such as Women’s Action Group, Women and Law in Southern Africa, Women in Law and Development in Africa and Zimbabwe Association of University Women. Women’s Action Group and Women’s Land Lobby Group are advocating to set aside portions of land for women, especially for female-headed households (7).
  • Some of the most influential CSOs in the region:

    - Women and Land in Zimbabwe (WLZ) was formed in 1998 by a coalition of activists and organizations whose vision was to advance and economically empower women. The organization then served a lobbying role for women to be empowered and have access to land, especially during the time when the land reform was happening. In the year of 2002 WLZ became a Trust with member´s approval. 
  • The key priorities for WLZ are to strengthen women´s land and natural resource rights, secure sustainable food security and livelihoods, promote equitable gender rights and women empowerment, support commercialisation, market and trade justice for women in land and natural resource management and to mainstream cross-cutting issues such as the environment, HIV/AIDS, DRR, climate change and people living with disabilities.
  • The African Institute for Agrarian Studies (AIAS) is an independent policy research institution committed to the development of agrarian systems that enhance equitable land rights and sustainable land uses throughout Africa. It aims to support the work of policy analysts and activists seeking to transform rural society in a progressive and sustainable manner.(
  • Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) is a regional NGO operating in the land sector. It is active in Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe ( ) (19).
  • Women’s Land and Water Rights in Southern Africa (WLWRSA) is a regional organization, founded in 2002. The organization was established to advocate for women’s land rights at national and regional levels and to enhance their contribution to food security and sustainable livelihoods. The organization focuses on land and water as “they are the most important and inseparable productive resources, which form the basis for successful agricultural production, leading to food security and sustainable livelihoods” ( 
  • Women’s Action Group, established in 1983, is a Zimbabwean women’s rights advocacy organization based in Harare. Its mission is to advocate and defend women’s rights in the country and to provide women with tools to assert those rights. The organization holds programmes on gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health and rights and HIV/AIDS ( )
  • Women in Law and Development in Africa is a pan-African network of organizations and individuals who work in the areas of law and development to promote and strengthen strategies which link law and development to increase women’s capacity to claim and enjoy all their human rights. The regional office of Zimbabwe has produced pamphlets and other materials to increase the knowledge of its members and partners and legal literacy materials to support outreach to the public to raise its awareness on women’s rights (

Local decision-making organizations and women’s representation in them

  • The lowest formal local government grassroots institution is the Village Development Committee (VIDCO), which consists of democratically elected members. The main functions of the VIDCOs include land allocation and rural development activities, which were once spearheaded by traditional leaders. Women’s participation and representation in VIDCOs is very minimal. 
  • Moving upwards from the village to the province, the governance structure includes Village Development Committees, Ward Development Committees (WADCOs), District Development Committees (DDCOs) and Provincial Development Committees (PDCOs). 
  • The Rural District Councils (RDCs) were established in 1993 to provide local services to communities within their areas of jurisdiction. RDCs are third-tier institutions in the country, lying below the national and provincial levels of government. However, they are the most significant and critical institutions for development from below. Women’s representation is also very low at the district level (30).

Legal Information and capacity development on land rights

  • Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) has been training trainers in different areas of the country. These training activities have proved very successful in overriding traditional customs and rituals and people are starting to question these customs more and more. WLSA selects people to train who command respect in their community (14).

Sources: numbers in brackets (*) refer to sources displayed in the Bibliography