Women in Africa have long had insecure rights to both moveable and immoveable property due to the coexistence of customary and statutory law, lack of clarity and poor enforcement of the formal rights to property that exist. Insecure property rights for women are most evident in the case of divorce or the death of a spouse when a woman loses access to land and household assets. This paper examines the issues of poverty, HIV/AIDS and property rights in the area where they intersect most vividly, women’s lives and livelihoods. The gendered nature of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa is analyzed as are the mechanisms of interaction between AIDS and women’s property rights. This paper seeks to move consideration of women’s property rights out of the human rights narrative and address instead the implications of poorly defined and enforced property rights from the perspective of political economy.

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Working Paper

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Copyright © 2006 University of Denver. This working paper first appeared in Human Rights and Human Welfare Working Papers 34 (2006), 1-34.

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