Women's perceptions of tenure security: evidence from 33 countries

Research reports and studies
March 2019
 Kausar Shaheen lifts a ladder at her home in Manhiala, Chakwal District, Pakistan © Andrew McConnell/Panos

This report uses household-level data from 33, mostly developing, countries to analyse perceptions of tenure insecurity among women. We test two hypotheses: (1) that women feel more insecure than men; and (2) that increasing statutory protections for women, for instance by issuing joint named titles or making inheritance law more gender equal, increases de facto tenure security.

The findings show that:

  1. women in intact households perceive similar rates of tenure insecurity as men
  2. in contrast, when households break down due to spousal death or divorce, women are exposed to much greater tenure insecurity than men are
  3. and, changes in statutory legislation are not enough to improve the tenure insecurity of women facing widowhood or divorce – deeper changes in social attitudes and cultural norms are needed.

The data suggests that improving women’s knowledge of how to defend themselves in the event that their property rights are challenged may help improve their tenure security in such scenarios.