For or Against Gender Equality? Evaluating the Post-Cold War ‘Rule of Law’ Reforms in Sub-Saharan Africa

August 2005
Celestine Nyamu-Musembi (UNRISD Occasional Paper 7)

The paper explores whether the post-Cold War rule of law reform agenda in sub-Saharan Africa has enhanced or impeded gender equity. Argues that a large part of the gender equality agenda remains unaddressed by the legal and institutional reforms undertaken so far. The section on reforms to property laws suggests that they have at worst deepened gender inequality and at best left biases intact. Official discussion of gender and land tenure remains disconnected from broader processes of economic restructuring. Financial sector reforms have not been co-ordinated with reform of land and family legislation and practice, yet land and family law are at the heart of women’s ability to access financial services.