Gender equality is re-emerging as an important global and national agenda with emphasis placed on closing the gender gap in terms of women’s representation in public and private decision-making bodies. Though unrelatedly, the period had coincided with the elevation of social protection in the form of cash transfers as the magic bullet in tackling gendered poverty and inequality. Adopting a Transformative Social Policy Framework and land reform as a social policy instrument, the paper questions the efficacy of the current approaches in transforming gendered poverty and inequalities. Land reform is hardly ever assessed as a policy instrument for its redistributive, productive, social protection and social reproduction functions. This paper departs from ‘classical models’ of land reforms, often designed in the mould of neo-liberal discourses of individual tenure to offer an in-depth reformulation of the land question and notions of land reforms. It focuses on land reform as a relational question with potential for social transformation as social policies within the transformative social policy framework relates not only to protection from destitution, but transformation of social institutions and relations including gender. In the year 2000, the Zimbabwean government embarked on a radical land reform programme whose redistributive outcomes saw various categories of women (married, single, and widowed) comprising 12-18% of beneficiaries gaining access to land in their own right. Data gathered through a mixed methods approach combining ethnographic and survey methods and analysed using qualitative and quantitative methods, suggest that access to larger pieces of land, irrigation, credit, markets and support training services by both women and men had transformed women’s social and economic situation in relation to men within the resettled areas.

Author Biography

Newman Tekwa is a doctoral student under the DST/NRF SARChI Chair in Social Policy (University of South Africa) whose work is framed by the concept of Transformative Social Policy. Newman’s research focuses on the Social Policy Dimensions of the Land and Agrarian Reform (under its Rethinking Social Policy Programme). The candidate is an alumnus of Agrarian Studies Training Institute (ASTI), a network which bring together inter-disciplinary young scholars from Africa, Latin America working on agrarian studies.

Jimi Adesina is Professor and the DST/NRF SARChI Chair in Social Policy at the College of Graduate Studies, University of South Africa in South Africa. Educated at the University of Ibadan (Nigeria) and Warwick University (UK), Prof Adesina taught at the University of Ibadan (Nigeria), was Professor of Sociology at Rhodes University (South Africa), and Professor and Head of Department at the University of the Western Cape (South Africa). A past President of the South African Sociological Association, Professor Adesina was elected to the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) in 2005. He serves on the Board of the UN Research Institute for Social Development (Geneva) and the Board of RC19 of the International Sociological Association. His research interests include Sociology, Social Policy, and the Political Economy of Africa’s Development. He has published widely in these areas.