"We have no voice for that": Land Rights, Power, and Gender in Rural Sierra Leone

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26 Citations (Scopus)
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Much attention has recently focused on the lease of land throughout the global south to nations and corporations in the global north. It is argued that local people’s access to and relationships with the land are being redefined and that large segments of these populations are being denied their rights to land with potentially detrimental effects for their livelihoods and food security. This paper explores one such project in Sierra Leone, focusing specifically on the experiences of rural women. The data illustrates how these women experience this 40,000 hectare bio-energy project as disempowering and disruptive. While these women may have the formal right to participate in land decisions and project benefits, they had no such rights in practice. I argue here that this outcome is the result of compound disempowerment which results from the complex interaction of indigenous social and cultural dynamics and the supposedly gender-neutral logic of liberal economics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-462
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Human Rights
Issue number4
Early online date2 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

I wish to thank the participants in the Gender and Land Governance Conference at Utrecht University in January 2013 for helpful comments and suggestions.

I would like to thank the Faculty of Management at Radboud University Nijmegen for funding the six months of fieldwork on which this article is based.


  • Gender
  • Sierra Leone
  • Land Rights
  • Land-Grab
  • Economic Liberalization
  • Disempowerment


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