Veracity of women’s land ownership in the aftermath of land redistribution in Zimbabwe: The limits of Western feminism

Kwashirai Zvokuomba, Kezia Batisai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Women’s land ownership through land reform all over the world has taken place on a gendered, incremental basis. The percentage of women land owners in Zimbabwe was less than 5% before and soon after independence, thereafter rising to a range of 12% to 27% for both small- and large-scale farms. This open forum unpacks the authenticity and genuineness of such women’s land ownership in the resettled spaces. It is established through narrative analysis that the meaning of land ownership by women, seen from the vantage point of Western feminism, gives a limited representation of what is occurring on the ground in Zimbabwean communities. The main argument that came out of the field-based evidence from Masvingo District is that women’s land ownership may not merely be viewed from the perspective of ownership and possession of a document called a title deed, ‘offer letter’ or ‘permit’. Ownership of land goes beyond these, because it is tied to totemic, clan and lineage relations. These gendered relational nuances are better understood from an African feminist perspective which, we argue, is more attuned and positioned to explain the gendered inequalities and structures that women navigate as they negotiate access to and ownership of land. For instance, African feminism relative to Western feminisms allows the deployment of the cultural idiom of ‘honorary husband’, deconstruction of the highly patriarchal concept of ‘samusha’, and engagement with the gendered inequalities and politics around land inheritance and transfer to the next generation. Analysis of women’s land ownership that is located within Western feminisms portrays a generalisation of African women and fails to analyse specific cultural contexts; this is due to the homogenisation and universalisation tendencies of that framework, a consequence of over-reliance on the European-American white middle-class woman as a model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-158
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • African feminism
  • Western feminism
  • land ownership
  • veracity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies


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