Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Jean Halley

Subject Categories

African Studies | Women's Studies


gender equality, land rights, poverty, customary, agriculture, colonial


History has shown us that women always have a part to play in society and that they have fought to receive equal opportunity with their male counterparts. In the United States in the late 1800s and early twentieth century, this movement by women became known as the women’s suffrage movement. It paved the way to women fighting for equal opportunity including for the right to vote and equal pay. In Tanzania, women fought and continue to fight against customary practices that are discriminatory against them. In this thesis I make three arguments: 1. I argue that the history of the transformation of land rights in Tanzania occurred from the colonial period to the Nyerere’s collectivization period. 2. I claim that women experienced gender inequalities in ownership and control of land during the land reform in the 1970’s, a reform that transformed Tanzania's land tenure regime during the colonial period into the rural communal ownership within the context of a rural development scheme known as ujamaa. 3. I argue that the land rights of the past shaped the present land tenure issues including that of gender inequality. I intend to approach these claims/arguments in my thesis by studying the history of Tanzania and the ujamaa movement. Along with the history of ujamaa, a program created by Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere, I will examine how ujamaa was institutionalized, the pros and cons of this movement and how Tanzanian women have been able to own land through customary laws. My research will be conducted using primarily historical research to develop a thorough account of the historical background of women in Tanzania, the land tenure system and the ujamaa movement.