Although the pluralist system of land tenure in Vanuatu does not directly discriminate against women, the operation of the system and contemporary interpretations of custom are increasingly marginalizing women from decision-making processes regarding land management and control. Commitment to the principles of gender equality through constitutional guarantees and the ratification of relevant international treaty obligations, while providing an appropriate legal framework for equality, have only had limited success in addressing discriminatory practices. This article analyzes alternative ways to overcome the barriers faced by women that are currently under consideration in many Pacific Island countries, including recording and registration, as well as legal vehicles such as incorporating customary land groups, trusts and community companies. This article concludes that while both existing and proposed mechanisms have the potential to secure for women a greater role in decision-making processes regarding land management and control, that potential will not be realized in the absence of knowledge, empowerment and the acceptance of the legitimacy of such rights.
Nagarajan V, MacDermott T. Empowering Women through Recognition of Rights to Land: Mechanisms to Strengthen Women's Rights in Vanuatu. Pacific Affairs. September 2013;86(3):471-491. http://dx.doi.org/10.5509/2013863471