Property Rights in Tanzania

Property Rights in Tanzania, Women and Property Rights in Tanzania, Women and Property and the Law in Tanzania, Women and Ownership of Property and more on Mywage Tanzania.

What does the law say in relation to property ownership by women?

Under the Constitution of Tanzania, 1977, every person in Tanzania is entitled to own property. A person’s right to own property is governed by the provisions of the Land Act and the Village Land Act. Both of these Acts reversed discriminatory customary practices that negatively affected the rights of women to land. These Acts recognised the equal entitlement of men and women to own property.

The law has prohibited all forms of discrimination in ownership of property. A woman wanting to own property shall follow the same procedures that men follow in acquiring property and shall not be denied for reasons that she is a woman.

What is the real situation in Tanzania?

Despite the presence of these progressive pieces of law, including the mother law (the constitution protecting women’s rights in Tanzania) there is a big challenge that women are facing. Many are unable to realise their right to own land and other property due to a lack of awareness of these laws and how to enforce them. This makes further sensitisation of women about their land rights still very necessary.

Another barrier to female property rights is the presence of customary laws, practices, inheritance practices, traditions and norms that deny women rights to own property.

What are some of the examples of land/property issues in Tanzania?

  • Most women have access to land through their spouses or male relatives but do not own on their own. 
  • Unmarried daughters, widows and divorced women are often a subject of stigmatisation, discrimination and harassment by their male relatives.
  • Husbands use title deeds to secure loans without consulting their wives, causing evictions and/or loss of their properties
  • In matters of inheritance there has been unequal distribution of wealth between men and women where women are always considered second.
  • As customary marriages are not a subject of registration, women are disadvantaged in that upon divorce or death of their husband they find themselves losing almost everything.

What are the challenges in realising women’s rights in Tanzania?

  • Dualism in the Land Tenure System: The fact that customary tenure operates alongside statutory tenure. 
  • Lack of knowledge about women’s rights by women and the public at large.
  • Male dominance in society. 
  • Stereotypes and negative attitudes against women’s power, competence, potential, status etc.
  • Archaic traditions, customs and religious beliefs.

What needs to be done to guarantee women’s property rights in Tanzania?

  • Broad-based public awareness for women to enhance their knowledge and rights to own property.
  • Advocacy for policy, practice and attitude change.
  • Decentralizing land administration to allow grassroots communities (where most women are based) to participate in decisions. 
  • Economic empowerment for women to enable them compete in land dealings.
  • The formation of women’s social movements to campaign and fight against discriminatory customs, beliefs and attitudes.

Read more

Find out more about the Gender Pay Gap in Tanzania.


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