United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Partnerships for gender equality in land ownership and control. Good Practices from Western Balkans and beyond.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (
United Nations / Multilateral body

    The Western Balkans regional initiative addresses the challenges faced regarding women’s access to land ownership and control. Multi-stakeholder gender teams consisting of land administration specialists, government policy makers, gender officers, local NGOs and notaries have been established to support the process of strengthening gender equality and social inclusion in property rights. In 2013, sex-disaggregated data was produced and Governments were surprised to learn that female ownership in some places was as low as 3 percent, and not more than 30 percent. This information became instrumental in informing dialogue with policy makers on gender equality in property rights.

    Implementation of the Project/Activity

    The activity has facilitated country reporting and monitoring under SDG indicator 5.a.2, and contributed to its implementation by local agents of change. The results of the legal assessments carried out in 2015-2016 were updated in early 2020 to support the next round of SDG reporting. These assessments were carried out using FAO’s Legal Assessment Tool (LAT) for gender-equitable land tenure which is specifically designed to implement the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the context of national food security (VGGT) principle of gender equality and to facilitate country reporting under SDG Indicator 5.a.2. Applying the LAT has helped identify some of the legal and technical impediments to women’s access to land ownership, and brought to light some implementation challenges. FAO and GIZ have partnered with International Union of Notaries (UINL) to identify the capacity needs of notaries and registration offices in the region and to help bridge the implementation gap identified in the assessments. A workshop was organised, bringing together representatives of the ministries of justice in the region, notaries and registration offices. This forum allowed local practitioners to share their experience, challenges and solutions, and has helped development partners provide integrated and targeted support, rooted in local realities and with the aim of implementing the VGGT and SDG 5.a.2. This collaboration has led to the publications of the “Guidelines on strengthening gender equality in notarial practices – South-East Europe”. FAO, GIZ and UINL are now supporting the national adaptation of these guidelines to tailor them to the national legal frameworks and specificities of each country.


    Sex-disaggregated data is generated from the property registration IT systems on a regular basis, showing significant increase of women ownership since 2014 - 10% increase in North Macedonia. - A reduction of the property registration fee has been introduced in Serbia through an incentive tax costing just a token fee of EUR 3. - Notaries and the Agency for Real Estate Cadastre are organising open days, providing free legal and professional assistance to citizens in North Macedonia. - Civil registers and Property Registers are interoperable, which facilitates inheritance procedures and transfers of ownership in Serbia, Albania and is planned in Bosnia and Herzegovina. - Serbia, North Macedonia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro and Azerbaijan officially reported on SDG Indicator 5.a.2. More results are available on page 10 of the leaflet: Achieving SDG indicator 5.a.2 in the Western Balkans and beyond - http://www.fao.org/3/cb0173en/CB0173EN.pdf

    Enabling factors and constraints

    - Sex-disaggregated data were key to start the policy dialogue for improving gender equality in land ownerships in the Western Balkans. - Sharing good practices across the region and with other regions made the progress faster. - Partnerships was key for the progress. The initiative started in 2013 with an innovation grant from the World Bank, implemented jointly by the World Bank and FAO with the support from Landesa and UN Women office in Albania. After the adoption of the SDGs, the support continued with the FAO, GIZ and the International Union of Notaries support, focused on the progress on SDGs indicator 5.a.2.

    Sustainability and replicability

    The Western Balkans multi-stakeholders Gender teams have been established in 2013 and since then they are actively involved in improving gender equality in land ownership and control. The countries officially nominated an authority and a focal point to lead the monitoring and reporting on SDG Indicator 5.a.2. The legal framework has been strengthened and various economic incentives introduced by law. In early 2019, the governments of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia expressed interest in carrying out a review of their national legal frameworks against the proxies of SDG Indicator 5.a.2. Following on from this successful collaboration in the Western Balkans, FAO and GIZ extended their partnership to the South Caucasus to facilitate reporting under SDG indicator 5.a.2. Several countries from Asia are interested to learn from the Western Balkans.

    Other sources of information

    Leaflet: Achieving SDG indicator 5.a.2 in the Western Balkans and beyond: http://www.fao.org/3/cb0173en/CB0173EN.pdf Guidelines for Strengthening gender equality in notarial practices in Southeast Europe: http://www.fao.org/3/CA2953EN/ca2953en.pdf Guidelines for Strengthening gender equality in land registration in Southeast Europe: http://www.fao.org/3/cb2857en/CB2857EN.pdf Video: Understanding customs and people’s lives. Land and Gender in the Western Balkans: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3qGkLOJH14&feature=youtu.be

    COVID-19 Impact

    The work in the Western Balkans has been initially impacted by Covid-19 restrictions for face-to-face meetings, but online platforms have been introduced and widely used. The National Chamber of Notaries are heavily involved in the process, introducing internal standards for gender equality in notarial practices. The IUNL are providing support to notaries in the region by sharing good international practices. Property Registration Agencies in the Region are actively involved in the process of strengthening gender equality in land ownership and control and initiated various legal changes, which are adopted in the Parliaments, or through executive orders. The Agencies also generate sex-disaggregated data nationwide and across local municipalities, focusing their support where most needed.

    No progress reports have been submitted. Please sign in and click here to submit one.
    This initiative does not yet fulfil the SMART criteria.
    20 June 2013 (start date)
    31 December 2021 (date of completion)
    Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
    Other beneficiaries

    Main beneficiaries: women and men nationwide. - Key stakeholders: Property Registration Authorities, National Chamber of Notaries, NGOs, Gender Equality Offices, National Statistical Authorities, Ministries of Agriculture, Ministries of Justice. - Partnerships: FAO, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), International Union of Notaries, World Bank, Landesa, UN Women Office in Albania.

    More information
    Contact Information

    Rumyana, Senior Land Tenure Officer