Sustainable Development Goals

Indicator 5.a.2 - Proportion of countries where the legal framework (including customary law) guarantees women’s equal rights to land ownership and/or control

The indicator collects all existing national policy objectives, draft provisions, legal provisions and implementing legislation that reflect good practices in guaranteeing women’s equal rights to land ownership and/or control. This is a de jure indicator which will measure progress towards SDG Target 5.a.

Target 5.a

Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws.

Level of guarantees of women's equal rights to land ownership and/or control in the national legal framework for selected countries, 2020 (1=lowest, 6=highest)


Indicator 5.a.2 measures the extent of women’s disadvantages in ownership of and rights to land, as well as equal legal rights to land ownership. Together with indicator 5.a.1, it provides a basis for policy measures aimed at securing equal opportunities and access to rights and resources.

Key results

Legal frameworks fail to provide enough guarantees for gender equality in ownership and/or control over land. Substantial progress is still needed both in law formulation and implementation to realize women’s land rights.

The first global assessment of 16 national legal frameworks suggests that relevant legal provisions in many countries across the world do not adequately protect women’s rights to land. The degree to which the legal framework guarantees women’s equal rights to land ranges from very low to medium in more than 60 percent of assessed countries. Only 12 percent of assessed countries guarantee a very high degree of protection for gender equality in land ownership and/or control.

Disaggregated data by six key criteria for this type of legal framework suggest that legal provisions that mandate or incentivise joint registration of land in married couples are lacking in most countries. Without the inclusion of women’s names and rights on the land registration document, women’s property rights remain insecure, particularly for women who separate, divorce, or become abandoned or widowed. In such situations, women may be forced to undertake costly legal action to claim their rights.

In countries in which legal pluralism prevails (where the formal law coexists with customary laws), women land rights are less protected. For instance, in countries where some aspects of customary laws override constitutional provisions, women’s land rights are less safeguarded, particularly when it comes to inheritance or matrimonial rights. Likewise, where customary law is recognized, very often the rights of women are not protected if they conflict with the formal law and are more likely to be endangered by entrenched patriarchal norms.

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