COHRE Report on the Impact of Inheritance Law on Women in the Middle East and North Africa
Friday, September 7, 2007 3:55 PM

COHRE (Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions) has recently released a report entitled "In Search of Equality: A Survey of Law and Practice related to Women’s Inheritance Rights in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region" (2007). The report examines inheritance law and its impact on women in the Middle East and North Africa region. COHRE’s Women and Housing Rights Programme compiled information and research from Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia and Turkey to examine not only the inheritance laws of these countries, but the practical impact these laws have on women.

Although the right for women to inherit can be found in international law, this is not always true at a national level. The new COHRE report reveals that under many legal systems, regardless of their marital status, women are not allowed to own or inherit land, property or housing in their own names. Even if this right has been included legally within a country, it is often taken away by members of their community. Women who are allowed to inherit property often find that they have no actual control over the property and are entirely dependant on their male relatives.

The issue of inheritance for women goes beyond the need for legal reform. There are traditions, societal norms, attitudes toward women and customary laws that prevent women from inheriting property.    

COHRE recommends reforms in inheritance law embodying full gender equality and an increase in education. Most women remain unaware of their already existing rights. What will be more difficult to accomplish is the eradication of discriminatory customs, practices and traditions.

The report can be downloaded from    

Compiled from:  "Inheritance Rights," COHRE (Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions),, February 2007.