PhD Student Lauren Kaplan Awarded the Rutgers-USAID Research & Innovation Fellowship

Awarded a second time with the Research & Innovation Fellowship through Rutgers and USAID, Lauren Kaplan will be returning to Cape Town, South Africa for two months to conduct research that will ultimately contribute towards her dissertation. The purpose of her research is to explore existing laws, policies, and programs and their impact at national and sub-national levels regarding women's access to, use of, and control over land. This will be done through the facilitation of focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, and document analysis. During her first trip to Cape Town, Lauren's research centered on women's entrepreneurship in the 'informal settlements' and women's lack of access to credit, micro-loans, and formal banking systems. Through this research, Lauren became interested in women's access to land and other natural resources, as much informal sector work depends on agriculture, and thus to land ownership. The case of South Africa is especially interesting given the past of Apartheid and the implementation of Bantustans. Lauren plans to return to South Africa to further her research in order to expand her analysis to the other provinces of South Africa, specifically KwaZulu Natal and Limpopo, where customary law is most prevalent. The ultimate goal of her research is to explore the existing laws, policies, and programs at both national and sub-national levels and to evaluate their impact on women's access to, use of, and control over land, and to engage with the complexity of customary law, and the ways in which State level policies converge and diverge with indigenous populations.

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