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, 2021 (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

Significant reforms are still needed in a majority of countries to repeal discriminatory legal provisions and/or close gender gaps in land and property rights. 

Evidence collected from 52 reporting countries representing different regions, religious and cultural contexts and legal systems reveals that women´s land rights are frequently less protected than those of men in national laws. About 46 percent of legal frameworks offer limited protection of women’s land rights, while nearly 25 percent provide medium levels of guarantees. Only 29 percent of the reporting countries provide sufficient protection of women’s rights to land in their legal frameworks. 

Noticeable progress has been achieved in succession law. About 64 percent of countries provide equal inheritance rights for spouses and children, although women’s rights in informal unions or polygamous households are often not protected. In countries where customary and/or religious laws govern family matters, women’s and girls’ inheritance rights tend to be unprotected. 

The picture regarding the management and control of property rights in matrimonial regimes is mixed. On the one hand, 56 percent of reporting countries protect spouses from being dispossessed of marital property, requiring spousal consent for land transactions. On the other hand, while 60 percent of countries have full or partial community property as the default matrimonial property regime, only 39 percent encourage joint land registration by either mandating it (85 percent) or offering financial incentives to that end (15 percent). Therefore, women’s rights in marital property essentially remain insecure in case of widowhood and divorce. Moreover, the rights of women living in informal unions are only protected in 23 percent of countries, mainly in Latin America and Europe. 

In countries where customary law is recognized (65 percent), only half prioritize the principle of non-discrimination in case of conflict. It is also worth noting that while 35 percent of countries do not recognize customary law, land matters are nonetheless often governed by customary practices. In these cases, particularly in contexts where patriarchal systems prevail, women’s land rights remain insecure.  

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