Women and land: acces to and use of land and natural resources in the communal areas of rural South Africa
Arends, Ursula F.
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The typical face of poverty in South Africa is African, rural, and female. As the primary users of rural land, women engage in farming and subsistence activities. Despite this pivotal role played by rural women, they experience grave problems under communal tenure, most notably in relation to access to and use of land and productive resources. Research has shown that the majority of rural households in South Africa derive significant proportions of their livelihoods from land-based activities, and that the value of common property resources associated with land, for example livestock production, crop production, and natural resource harvesting is often overlooked as an important asset of poor rural communities. The importance of these landbased livelihoods sources is even greater for female-headed households, female members of rural households, and the very poor or 'marginalised' members of rural communities, since they tend to be more reliant on landbased livelihoods than those with secure income from pensions, wageearning activity or remittances from migrant labourers. The importance of security of land tenure to the sustainability of rural livelihoods, particularly insofar as rural women are concerned, is the central focus of this study.