Land rights provide women with a pathway out of poverty

Property ownership provides vulnerable families with the resources they need to break out of poverty.

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Two smiling women looking out of the window, looking at the camera

We’re making land ownership more accessible for women so they can secure the housing and opportunities they need to flourish. 

Poverty primarily affects those living in rural areas — people who depend on land, but lack formal access to it. These families often make a modest living through informal work, such as farming. But without legal land rights, they’re constantly vulnerable to eviction and lack basic services such as running water and access to healthcare.

The informality of their work prevents them from having a relationship with a formal bank. With no access to land or a loan, families live to survive. This is especially true of women, who bear the brunt of poverty by managing the workload at home rather than pursuing an education or career. 

We invest in land because we believe it’s the catalyst for people, primarily women, to take control of their lives from the ground up. 

When women secure legal land rights, they gain autonomy over their lives and futures. A land title provides physical protection from eviction and violence (women who own land are up to eight times less likely to experience domestic violence), and it provides women with a permanent asset that builds generational wealth. Land is a foundation to build a life rather than survive one. 

Women landowners can lift themselves out of poverty because they can participate in the market, where land serves as their collateral. They can build a formal relationship with a bank and access a loan for their home and business. Simply owning land increases net worth, and it also increases financial opportunities. 

Studies have shown women with strong property and inheritance rights earn up to 3.8 times more income and increase their savings by up to 35%. In Etzatlán, Mexico, we saw 941 families increase their net worth by 2.2 times in just two years of becoming landowners.

Sixty percent of these families are led by women — women like Griselda. 

Griselda and her sons

Shortly after getting married, Griselda and her husband rented a small one-bedroom home. Six years and two children later, it’s not adequate for their growing family of four. They couldn’t find affordable housing options, and they didn’t own land to build on. Griselda believed securing a lot of land could be their pathway to quality housing and a better future.

After enrolling in our land program, Griselda and her husband started making monthly payments of about 1,500 pesos (~$88 USD) per month. The first few months were difficult, and when money was tight, Griselda’s husband doubted if they could make this work. But Griselda knew they needed to make it work. She started selling food on the weekends to supplement the family’s income. 

By the end of 2023, Griselda’s family had completed their payments and secured legal land with utilities. She now dreams of building a home on their land, where she can raise her family and build her business. “It feels like a dream come true,” Griselda told us. “I am so happy that I have land to my name that I can pass on to my children.” 

Griselda’s family is an example of how land changes everything for generations. Children whose mothers own land are up to 33% less likely to be severely underweight. And secure land rights have contributed to a 2 times increase in high school graduation and a 50% reduction in teen pregnancy rates. Children have grounds to thrive when their parents own property. 

The widespread change that comes from women owning land is why we ensure at least 60% of the people we serve are women.

That’s nearly a 4 times increase compared to the national average of Mexico.

Women in poverty are prevented from reaching their full potential. We’re also prevented from experiencing everything they have to offer the world. We believe when women become landowners, everyone becomes better for it. Because they’re able to spend less time bearing the brunt of poverty and more time participating in the world we’re building together.