Gains for women from farmland redistribution in South Africa and sustainable pathways out of poverty: insights from recent evidence
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Equitable access to land and other natural resources aimed at significant rural poverty reduction are at the
forefront of ambitious goals entrenched in post-1994 land and agrarian policies. Among other targets,
redistributive land policies promise that women should make up at least one-third of all land reform beneficiaries. After two decades of farmland redistribution, disputes persist as to whether these outcomes have been achieved. This focus piece systematically reviews evidence from a micro-level study based on blended information gathering strategies in three provinces that vary in terms of their agrarian structures and agro-ecology. The study uniquely overlays farmland transfer data with provisioning of agricultural development support information. The analysis embeds the gender equity-land reform puzzle in the traditional poverty-land reform nexus. Its main question explores the extent to which land and agrarian reform interventions have produced an altered livelihood dynamic for land reform beneficiaries and more importantly to measure how this has translated into gendered
sustainable livelihood impacts at household level. The study draws on the sustainable livelihoods framework
as the lens for making sense of gender inequalities in the countryside and the extent to which there has been
equitable redress in the interests of rural women. The findings summarise trends in respect of access, ownership and control of land assets and the related livelihood outcomes by gender. Evidence suggests that shrinking numbers of black farmers gain ownership of land and enjoy access to Government-financed support for on-farm production and participation in agricultural value chains beyond the farm gate. This finding is more pronounced for women farmers. More importantly, it interventions which can and do impact on promoting sustainable
livelihoods, particularly for female headed households.