The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Women in Parliaments Global Forum (WIP) recently brought together female Parliamentarians from 12 African countries in Nairobi, Kenya to share strategies which promote reforms to ensure that the rights of women to property are included in all legal frameworks.

Women in many African countries are prevented from contributing to the development of their countries by unequal access to property, discriminatory laws which include land and tenure rights,

discrimination in the labor market and other business-related obstacles.

The meeting provided an occasion to discuss the property rights landscape with special attention given to the role of MPs in advancing property and inheritance laws for women across Africa.

Gabriel Negatu, Director the AfDB Eastern Africa Regional Centre, said in a media statement received here this week that progress had been made to promote of gender equality in most

African countries although more effort was needed in upholding women property ownership.

Africa has witnessed significant progress on gender equality. Despite this progress, there are still areas such as the legal status, land and property rights, where more is yet to be done,” he said, adding that long-term competitiveness of the continent depended on how well it empowered its women.

He called on African nations to utilize every opportunity to promote economic empowerment of women. We must take advantage of partnerships to ensure we remove these obstacles and invest in gender equality, hence the critical importance of partnering with MPs given their unique role in passing/advancing laws that ensure gender equality and women’s economic mpowerment, he said.

The media statement quoted Kenyan MP Florence Mutua as stressing the need to discuss structures which provided women access to properties. We cannot talk about creating the necessary legislation and policies to grant women their rights without also discussing structures that empower women access to resources and more importantly, property,” she said.

The unequal ratio of ownership between men and women contributes substantially to this condition, she said, adding that lack of rights to tenure or ownership rendered many women unable to protect themselves and this in turn prevented access to credit through lack of collateral thus reinforcing the control that men traditionally have over the household and its dependents.

In Africa, only a handful of countries including Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and more recently Kenya have laws that speak to women’s access to property.