Egypt: Empowering Women to Claim Inheritance Rights – WIN – EGY914
Women’s lack of access to and control over property and women’s inheritance rights are global issues, with women owning an estimated 1-2% of all titled land worldwide. Women’s lack of control over land and property places them at a significant disadvantage in terms of securing a place to live, maintaining a means for survival and accessing economic opportunities. The situation of women in Egypt with regard to these rights is reflected in the fact that women own only 4% of land. Unequal inheritance laws for women have also been a main criticism in the Concluding Observations of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Committee in 2010.
The Egyptian Constitution (1971) protects women’s right to own property and inheritance and this is detailed in the Civil Code which governs property ownership and which affirms women’s right to own, inherit and independently use property equally to men. The Inheritance Law (Law 77 of 1943) regulates and clearly provides for women’s inheritance in accordance with the Islamic Shari’a. Yet the vast majority of women, particularly those in rural areas, are not able to access rights as per the current Law. Discriminatory practices lead men and families to deprive women of their rights to inheritance and communities silently encourage and accept this practice. In addition, the implementation of the Law itself is hindered by cumbersome and costly court proceedings which take years to adjudicate. At the national level, the GoE is committed to addressing all laws that discriminate against women and women’s rights movements address forms of violence and discrimination including denial of inheritance rights. This discrepancy between the law and reality is deeply rooted in land ownership patterns in Egypt.
The patrilineal family and inheritance structure in Egypt is such that women pass on property to their husbands and children. With this as their justification, families deprive women from their rightful share of inheritance for fear of dividing family wealth and that land be transferred to other families (loss of land capital). Several culturally accepted justifications and practices have developed over time to prevent this, including intermarriage, legally registering women owned/inherited land in the name of male relatives, substituting women’s right to inheritance with a monetary amount (redwa) and justifying the complete denial of women’s rights.
The result is that women are deprived of their economic rights and that they are therefore rendered more vulnerable to losing their source of food, income, and shelter, particularly in situations where traditional heads of households (husbands, fathers, or brothers) are taken by illness, divorce, abandonment, household violence, migration or death. This also impacts women’s independence and intra-household decision making, rendering women vulnerable to situations of violence in the home for example.
Women in Upper Egypt have greater access to, and control over, economic rights, resources and opportunities.
Actors at the community and governorate levels are working coherently through an integrated approach to facilitate women’s access to inheritance rights and to enable women to better manage their property and assets in Assiut and Sohag governorates.
Result 1: Local institutions (6 CSOs) are effectively working together at the community level and are actively advocating with intermediary organisations at the governorate level to promote women’s access to and management of inheritance and property rights, including current legislation and the provisions of CEDAW.
Result 2: Local initiatives in 6 communities involving multiple stakeholders, including women, create community mechanisms to promote women’s access to property and inheritance rights.
Result 3: 12,000 Women are empowered to effectively demand, access and manage their inheritance and property.
Activities for Result 1:
1. Identify and select 6 target communities and CSOs to lead community level advocacy
2. Institutional assessment of 6 CSOs and determination of capacity building needs
3. Institutional assessment of 2 partners HDEA and ACDA and determination of capacity building needs
4. Implement CSO and partner capacity building plans based on needs assessments
5. Promotion of women’s participation in CSO management and decision-making structures
6. Review and update the legal analysis of current policy and procedures for inheritance and property rights, including analysis of gaps in implementation of CEDAW provisions
7. Set and implement Governorate, National and International level advocacy strategies and plan
Activities for Result 2:
1. Conduct a study on community knowledge, attitudes and practices (pre-KAP study) towards women’s inheritance and property rights
2. Form Community Committees in each of the target communities
3. Discuss the findings of the KAP study with Community Committees, set and implement an action plan for community awareness-raising
4. Build the capacity of 6 Community Committees in rights-based approach; women’s rights especially inheritance rights, consultancy, mediating skills, conflict resolution, etc.
5. Build the capacity of community and religious leaders to participate effectively in community awareness-raising
6. Conduct post – KAP study and measure the change in community knowledge, attitudes and practices (gender disaggregated data)
Activities for Result 3:
1. Identify female and male Champions and Role Models
2. Capacity building of Champions and Role Models
3. Support female and male Champions in setting and implementing activity plans/ initiatives for spreading awareness and empowering women
4. Produce guide for women on how to secure their inheritance rights
5. Improve the capacity of legal aid centres to provide legal consultancy, including infrastructure improvements
6. Initiate referral system for local women to access legal services
7. Support legal aid centers to be able to provide financial support for payment of court fees to poor women involved in cases to protect their rights
The principal target group comprises 1) 12,000 women from rural communities in project areas targeted by awareness raising campaigns; 2) 500 women participating in trainings on asset management; 3) 300 women receiving legal support; 4) 6 target CSOs and intermediate organisations; 5) religious and community leaders at local and governorate level. The final beneficiaries are the women beneficiaries and their families, i.e. approximately 36,000 individuals.
Assiut and Sohag Governorates, Upper Egypt
01.01.2013 – 30.06.2016