Women’s Bigger Burden: Disparities in Outcomes of Large Scale Land Acquisition in Sierra Leone

Genesis Tambang Yengoh, Frederick Ato Armah, Karin Steen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Women farmers make up a majority of small-scale food producers in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite their important role in the food and livelihood security of their households and communities, women continue to face substantial challenges in their rights of and access to land resources in the region. In a number of countries such as Sierra Leone where large-scale land acquisition is ongoing, we posit that women’s predicament may further deteriorate. Using data drawn from a survey of household and livelihood activities, focus groups and interviews we examine the outcomes of large-scale land acquisitions on women at the local level in two districts in Sierra Leone. We found that first, women depend more on land-based natural resources that directly affect the day-to-day welfare of households (such as firewood and medicinal plants) than men. Second, land acquisitions have led to a significant fall in the incomes of women and men. The effects of the fall of women’s income have more direct and profound consequences on household wellbeing compared with men. Third, men tend to rank the effects of land acquisitions on women lower than women do. We conclude that current social and cultural norms and women’s role in rural societies is complex and predisposes women to negative livelihood processes and outcomes associated with large-scale land acquisitions. Policy interventions designed to address local and national challenges to socio-economic and cultural development should recognize the crucial role played by women and be responsive to their special needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-244
Number of pages24
JournalGender Issues
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Dec 1

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • Social and Economic Geography

Free keywords

  • Gender
  • Land acquisitions
  • Land resources
  • Land rights
  • Livelihoods
  • Women


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