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Gender-Related Legal Reform and Access to Economic Resources in Eastern Africa
World Bank /


Given that previous efforts to ensure greater equity in personal laws have not been fully successful in eastern African countries, any new legal initiatives must not repeat the mistakes of the past where law merely remains on the books as a legitimizing tool that reinforces or supports gender discrimination, instead of actively protecting and guarding the interests of both men and women. This report attempts to draw out some possible lessons from past experiences to inform new efforts at legal reform in these countries-Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. It examines the laws related to allocation of economic resources within households in the broader historical, social, and cultural context, and examines the effectiveness of these laws in challenging gender relationships. Chapter 2 describes the legal framework governing personal relationships in Ethiopia. Chapter 3 examines land issues, mainly in Kenya and Ethiopia, and the gender-based impact of the new land-tenure systems on African households. Together, these chapters are intended to demonstrate the legal system ' s failure to improve gender relationships within the household and the failure to ensure greater equity in allocating resources. Chapter 4 builds on the preceding two chapters to crystallize lessons emerging from these experiences. Chapter 5 describes some emerging approaches to legal reform; and Chapter 6 deliberates on the implications of these approaches to legal reform.

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