Displacing Women, Resettling Families: Impact of Landslides on Women’s Land Tenure Rights in Sri Lanka

Part of the SpringerBriefs in Environment, Security, Development and Peace book series (BRIEFSSECUR, volume 21)


Landslides occur regularly in the hilly areas of Sri Lanka. This chapter focuses on the proposed voluntary displacement and resettlement process that took place in a landslide-affected hilly town in Sri Lanka. A gender impact assessment of the process reveals two major effects on the lives of women: it deprived them of economic opportunities since they would be resettled far away from the original area which offered them livelihood; and it affected land ownership rights accorded to women by traditional legal systems. Considering that the unit of analysis for resettlement was the household, patriarchal bias in official decision-making tended to confer ownership of the new property on the official head of the household, often a male, even if the de facto owner of the original property was a woman. The coexistence of tradition and modernity in a changing social environment created contradictions among women and men. Trapped between these paradoxes, women faced the threat of increased vulnerabilities and erosion of their traditional rights.


Land tenure Women Disaster Social change Landslides 



National Building Research organization


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ColomboSri Lanka

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