How Empowering Women Boosts the Economy in Rwanda (and Everywhere Else)

Women gaining legal title to land has led to an agricultural boom.
Oct 23, 2014·
Samantha Cowan is an associate editor for culture.

Women finally gained the right to own land in Rwanda in 1999, but many women in rural areas are unaware of this right or fear retribution should they report a conflict over ownership. The Rwandan Initiative for Sustainable Development works to settle land disputes, primarily between husbands and wives, without turning to court intervention, which can take years to reach an outcome.

TakePart World producer Alex Stapleton recently traveled to Gikomero, Rwanda, where she talked to Faustin and Didacienne, a couple considering divorce. Faustin attempted to force his wife off land they legally share title to. The Rwandan Initiative for Sustainable Development's mediation committee informed the couple of the laws and Didacienne's right to the land. Like many other couples helped by the mediation committee, they've since resolved their conflict and now take pride in cultivating their crops together, increasing production.

These results are consistent with studies worldwide—in the developing world as well as in the "global north"—that have found that as women gain more power, independence, and control over their lives, the entire economy benefits.

Learn more about the Rwanda Initiative for Sustainable Development here.

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