A Place to Live: Women’s Inheritance Rights in Africa


[Excerpt from the introduction]

Women have special needs and problems to do with housing. Most of the people in the world who do not have proper housing are women. Women have to care for children and other family members, find and prepare food for the family, try to get money, and so on. Not having land and a proper house makes it very hard for women to look after themselves and their families. Not having land and a proper house also means it is harder for women to be safe and to have control over themselves and their lives, and make their own decisions.

One of the biggest problems women have is that they are often not allowed to own and inherit housing, land and property. This means that if their father or husband dies, they often have no land and no home.

Often, women do not have land and a proper house just because they are women, because people think that women should not be allowed to have land or a house of their own. Many laws and traditions say that women cannot own land or have rights to land. If a woman tries to get her own land or house, she is often punished.

In 2003, COHRE’s Women and Housing Rights Programme visited some countries in Africa to find out more about the needs and problems of women. They spoke to women in communities, to NGOs and to people in government. They held a workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa, in January 2004, with people who are doing work about land and housing in Africa. Then they wrote a report about ten countries in Africa, and are now trying to fight for change to make things better for women.

Read the full book at COHRE [PDF, 784 KB]