Indicator Name, Target and Goal

Indicator 5.a.1: Proportion of total agricultural population with ownership or secure rights over agricultural land, by sex; and (b) share of women among owners or rights-bearers of agricultural land, by type of tenure

Target 5.a: Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws

Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Definition and Rationale


This indicator is divided into two sub-indicators:

Sub-indicator (a) is defined as the prevalence of people in the agricultural population with ownership or tenure rights over agriculture land; and

Sub-indicator (b) is defined as the share of women in the agricultural population with ownership or tenure rights over agricultural land 


Agricultural land is defined, according to the World Census of Agriculture 2020 (WCA 2020), as any land that is under either temporary or permanent crops, meadows and pastures or is temporarily fallow. According to the official definition, lands under farm buildings, farmyards, forests, other wooded land, (inland) areas used aquaculture and other areas not elsewhere classified are not considered ‘agricultural lands’. However, considering the importance of farmyards to the household economy and food security, and since women frequently hold or control this type of land, it was decided to include ‘farmyard’ in the definition of agricultural land used for SDG indicator 5.a.1. 

Agricultural population refers to adult individuals living in agricultural households, i.e. households that operated land for agricultural purposes and/or raised livestock over the past 12 months, regardless of the final purpose of the production. If household members are engaged in agriculture only as farm labourers, the household is not considered an agricultural household and its members will not be assessed on their ownership / tenure status over agricultural land. 

Ownership or Tenure rights over agriculture land refer to satisfying three conditions: the presence of legally recognised documents in the name of the individual; the right to sell; and the right to bequeath. 

Rationale and Interpretation:

Indicator 5.a.1 aims to monitor the gender balance on ownership / tenure rights over agricultural land. This indicator has two sub-indicators that are based on the same data to monitor ownership/tenure rights from two different angles. While sub-indicator (a) uses the total male/female agricultural population as the reference population, and it gives information on how many male/female own/hold agricultural land, sub-indicator (b) focuses on the agricultural population with land ownership/tenure rights, and it gives information on the share of women among this population. Therefore, to compute these sub-indicators; it is sufficient to have:

1) The number of adult individuals in agriculture with ownership or tenure rights over agricultural land by sex; and

2) The total adult agricultural population 

Data Sources and Collection Method

Indicator 5.a.1 focuses on adult individuals living in agricultural households – i.e. households that have practiced agriculture over the last 12 months. Thus, it can be collected through Agricultural Surveys or National Household Surveys. Generally speaking, surveys are more cost-effective than censuses because they are carried out on a representative sample which is then used to estimate the parameters at the population level.

Agricultural Surveys are a recommended data source for two main reasons:

  1. The unit of analysis is agricultural holdings and, in most countries, a one-to-one relationship exists between the household-sector agricultural holdings and the agricultural households. Therefore, agricultural surveys capture well the reference population of indicator 5.a.1 (i.e. agricultural households), and there is no need for any pre-screening questions or oversampling to generate nationally representative estimates.
  2. Agricultural surveys can easily accommodate questions on agricultural land tenure rights since these surveys frequently collect data regarding rights on agricultural land and data on agricultural production. 

National Household Surveys (NHS) are also recommended data sources for indicator 5.a.1 for several reasons:

  1. National Household surveys are the most common data source available in both developed and developing countries.
  2. National Household surveys tend to be very broad in scope, and they are normally used to generate social, demographic and economic statistics. Therefore these surveys: i) can accommodate questions needed for the computation of indicator 5.a.1; ii) allow exploring associations between the individual status on indicator 5.a.1 and other individual or household characteristics, such as education, health, income level, etc; iii) can include additional data for a more detailed analysis of the indicator (eg., land size). However, if NHS are used to monitor indicator 5.a.1, it is necessary to identify agricultural households. In addition, especially in countries/regions with a low proportion of households is engaged in agricultural production. Therefore, in the case of NHS, a pre-screening and oversampling may be needed, especially in urban and peri-urban areas. 

Alternative sources include Population and Housing Censuses and Agricultural Censuses. In principle, Population and Housing Censuses (PHC) and Agricultural Censuses (ACs) can be considered an alternative data source for indicator 5.a.1 because, like household surveys, these surveys refer to the whole population living in a given area. Nonetheless, censuses present some disadvantages:

  1. Low frequency: Censuses are usually conducted every ten years. Therefore they do not allow countries to closely monitor the progress on indicator 5.a.1.
  2. Censuses are large scale and costly operations focussing on the structure of the population.
  3. Censuses heavily rely on proxy respondents, an approach which is in contrast with the respondents’ selection procedure recommended for indicator 5.a.1. 

Method of Computation and Other Methodological Considerations

Computation Method:

The following formulas can be used to calculate the two sub-indicators:


Comments and limitations:

The data for this indicator needs to be collected through appropriate sampling techniques so as to obtain a representative sample. 

When designing the questionnaire, it is critical to customize the list of legally binding documents to consider only those documents that guarantee the individual’s tenure rights which are enforceable by law in the country. 

Proxy, alternative and additional indicators: N/A

Data Disaggregation

The ‘level of required disaggregation for the sub-indicator (a) relates to the sex of the individuals. Moreover, the ‘recommended’ levels of disaggregation for this indicator are the income level, age groups, ethnicities, geographic location (urban and rural), tenure type, type of legally recognized documents


Official SDG Metadata URL  

Internationally agreed methodology and guideline URL
FAOMeasuring SDG Indicator 5.a.1: Background Paper

FAO. Sustainable Development Goals: Indicator 5.a.1. Rome. Internet site:  

Other references:
FAO SDG Portal and E-Learning:

FAO. Sustainable Development Goals Indicators. Available at 

FAO. E-learning Centre. Available at

Additional References:
Guidelines for Producing Statistics on Asset Ownership from a Gender Perspective. United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Statistics Division (forthcoming). 

Country examples

International Organization(s) for Global Monitoring

This document was prepared based on inputs from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

For focal point information for this indicator, please visit

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