World Bank: African women must get land rights

July 23, 2013 at 5:47 PM

WASHINGTON, July 23 (UPI) -- Giving women in sub-Saharan Africa ownership of the land they farm is vital to bringing the region out of poverty, the World Bank says.

The World Bank released a report Monday, "Securing Africa's Land for Shared Prosperity," that said the continent has the largest amount of usable uncultivated land in the world. But the report said longstanding practices, including denying land ownership to women, who are 70 percent of the region's farmers, are a block to progress.

"Despite abundant land and mineral wealth, Africa remains poor," said Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for Africa. "Improving land governance is vital for achieving rapid economic growth and translating it into significantly less poverty and more opportunity for Africans, including women who make up 70 percent of Africa's farmers yet are locked out of land ownership due to customary laws. The status quo is unacceptable and must change so that all Africans can benefit from their land."

The report recommended a number of other changes, based on research into land reform in China and Brazil.

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