Widows, land rights and women’s empowerment: “Who will own the kitchen?” – Findings from the Kilimanjaro region, Tanzania

Women around the world are constantly being denied their land rights due to discriminatory practices. Widowed women are particularly at risk. This prevents advancing women’s empowerment and women’s equal opportunities for participation and leadership at all levels of decision making processes. Through a qualitative case study within the Chagga community in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, this thesis’ aim is to understand how widows perceive their land rights, what challenges and opportunities they face in accessing their land rights, and why, and to what extent widows participate in local government decision-making processes in land management.

The findings reveal the nuanced ways in which widows perceive their right to land, transcending mere ownership to a more holistic view that encompasses cultural, social, and economic dimensions. Delving into the challenges and opportunities of accessing land rights, the study showed that while the widows exhibited remarkable negotiation skills and resilience, obstacles such as limited knowledge of land laws and familial responsibilities were obvious. Chagga widows’ participation in local government decision-making processes in land management reveals a complex landscape shaped by limited knowledge of land laws, challenges in attending local government meetings, and varying degrees of women’s representation in local leadership positions.