Environmental Rights

Business abuses women’s land and property rights


Women have a right to be free from discrimination with respect to ownership of land and property. However, women’s ability to access, use and control land, property and other resources is often not equal to that of men, particularly in certain cultural, religious or social environments. Access to and use of land and property are crucial to a life with dignity, an adequate standard of living and economic independence. Women’s rights to access, use and control land, property and other related resources have major implications for their enjoyment of other human rights such as rights to equality, food, health, housing, water, work and education. This is true of women in both rural and urban areas.


Women may suffer from discrimination regarding their legal rights to land and property due to cultural, religious or social assumptions and through the status of women in marriage, divorce, or as victims of domestic violence.


Without taking proactive preventative measures, businesses risk violating women’s rights to land, property and related resources and other human rights. To prevent this risk, businesses should ensure that women’s rights, needs and perspectives are considered in areas that might adversely affect their land and property rights, such as forced eviction. Businesses should promote training and education around women’s land and property rights, especially at the decision-making level, to ensure that business operations acknowledge and respect them as equal to men. 


Businesses should ensure they provide women with a grievance mechanism to make complaints regarding the Business’s impact on women’s land or property rights, which should be clear, transparent and accessible, and appropriately address cultural or religious sensitivities.

Relevant Human Rights Instruments

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, Article 2
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966, Articles 3 and 26
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966, Article 3
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 1979, Articles 2, 14, 15 and 16




SDG 1.4

Businesses that avoid abusing women's land and property rights help to achieve SDG 1.4: By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance.



SDG 2.3

Businesses that take measures to avoid abusing women's land and property rights can contribute to SDG 2.3: By 2030, double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, in particular women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers, including through secure and equal access to land, other productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets and opportunities for value addition and non-farm employment.




Businesses that honor women's land and property rights can support SDG 5.A: Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws.

SDG 10


SDG 10.2

Businesses that do not abuse women's land and property rights support SDG 10.2: By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status.