Base de Datos Género y Derecho a la Tierra

Mozambique

Normas consuetudinarias, creencias religiosas y prácticas sociales que influyen en el derecho a la tierra diferenciado por género

Land rights based on customary law may be allocated differently, according to gender, social values, social and marital status. In some cases, customary norms may be used to dispossess women of their rights, although in other cases they may be used to defend women’s land claims; this leaves room for uncertainty in the interpretation and application of the law (5). 

Specific traditions and customary norms vary from one region to another (11). Despite this variety, a common feature is the preponderance of patriarchal gender relations which restrict women’s access to land-use rights, benefits, labour and natural resources in community and private life. Indeed, even in matriarchal societies, women only have rights through their male relatives, such as their brothers or maternal uncles (4). 

In northern provinces, such as Nampula and Niassa, the main ethnic groups are the Macaus, Nyanjas, Macondes and Kimwanes. Catholic and Muslim religions are predominant and the main social unit is the matrilineal extended family (11). Here, the maternal uncle, known as the mwene, is the head of the household and of the matrilineal family and he is in charge of the lineage lands. The woman, the sister or the niece, pyamwene, has no role other than to be a link with the ancestral lineage (4).

Polygamy is widely practised, especially among the large Muslim population (4).

Gender roles are perpetuated through initiation rites, which, according to tradition, represent the passage from adolescence to adulthood. Indeed, initiation rites for girls are regarded as the most valid form of education because they prepare young girls for their role as wives and mothers. As a result, young girls are forced into leaving school and early marriages (4). Early marriages remain frequent, especially in rural areas (14).

Despite the increase in the number of divorces, the customary role of a woman remains that of a wife and mother and single women remain marginalized from society (4).

In the central provinces – Tete, Sofala, Manica and Zambèzia – the ethnic groups are the Ndaus, Senas, Shonas, Chuabos and Lomuès and the family systems are prevalently matrilineal. The husband moves to his wife’s home, although he does not receive land rights; upon dissolution of the marriage, the wife retains custody of the children and ownership of the land. Women work mainly within the household and men are more involved in seasonal wage work and in taking surplus produce to the market. Consequently, men receive the cash proceeds and control expenditures (4). 

In the southern part of the country, the dominating ethnic groups include the Rongas, Changanas, Chopes and Bitongas within the provinces of Maputo, Gaza and Inhambane (11). In these regions, especially in the Inhambane province, a patrilineal system prevails, whereby a woman’s access to land depends on her husband and male relatives. When women do gain access to land, plots are smaller – usually no larger than 1 hectare. Moreover, women are confined to household chores and heavy workloads because many men have migrated to other areas for work (4).

Although the law does not provide for the traditional payment of a bride price, known as lobolo, it is openly accepted. This custom gives husbands full custody of their wives who have no say in the administration of assets and cannot claim their right to access land (7).

According to customary norms, sons protect women, especially widows and the elderly. Moreover, according to the levirate custom, widows can continue to have access to cash income and land benefits by marrying their brother-in-law (4).

Overall, gender relations and customary social practices, which define the sexual division of labour, limit women’s activities to small-scale farming and hamper women from gaining access to better economic opportunities. Women require the authorization of their husbands or other male relatives to engage in economic activity and their involvement in the informal market is deemed inappropriate (4).

Fuentes: los números entre paréntesis (*) se refieren a las fuentes que están en la sección de Bibliografía