CASE STUDY: Egypt
In 1994, local authorities in Cairo, added key specifications to the marriage contracts to enhance the legal rights of both spouses. In particular, a list of seven issues which would be raised by the spouses-to-be was developed.
Among these questions, some key ones relate to access to housing, land, and property. For example, agreement on who keeps the matrimonial home and the household furnishings in the event of a divorce. An agreement that if the husband divorces his wife without her consent and with no reason from her part, she shall have the right to compensation, which they shall specify as a lump sum or a monthly stipend, in so far as this exceeds the rights established in law. Today, marriage contracts in Egypt allow for the inclusion of land and property clauses, but more awareness is needed to enable Egyptian women to use this option.
4. Increase Access to Credit and Micro-finance
A lack of enough financial resources prevents women from accessing and purchasing land, property, and housing. This is due to limited access to credit, unemployment and low formal employment rates where women earn less salaries as compared to men employed in similar positions.
The socio-economic impact of cooperatives for promoting and strengthening women’s access to land and its use in production, consumption, and sustenance also needs to be recognized. Cooperatives can play an essential role in increasing women’s land ownership and accessibility by providing solutions to a lack of funds to purchase property, accessibility to financing, the ability to rent and manage property or land for agricultural production and the ability to market the produce or invest in the property.
Issues of poverty alleviation, employment, income generation, food security, social inclusion, and empowerment can thus be resolved along with access to land by providing credit and financial services. In addition, adoption of minimal interest rates, or even no interest at all, as in the case of revolving funds and other complementary services (e.g., employment, provision of marketing services and means to overcoming local barriers in accessing markets, capacity development, etc.). Governments should encourage the formation of women’s cooperatives and increase the cooperatives’ access funds, soft loans, rotating funds, and markets.
5. Focusing on the Displaced Women and their Access to Land
One of the major challenges that displaced persons face is access to land and housing. This is made harder for displaced women as conflict exacerbate existing inequalities and promote gender discrimination making them the most vulnerable, and in relation to their access to land, housing, and property.
Their housing, land, and property (HLP) rights are violated by the parties to the conflict, at times by their national laws, and by their communities and families. They face multiple discriminations: as women, as refugees or IDPs, as members of economically disadvantaged groups and as members of ethnic and or religious minorities. These layers of discrimination also limit the ability to access justice, courts hearings and pay for the lawyers. Loss or the inability to access civil documentation, legal stay issues and statelessness also constrain access to land. Protecting women’s HLP rights in displacement and conflict contexts is extremely challenging, but equally important.
Women empowerment can be achieved by increasing women's access to land, especially in conflict-affected contexts. Despite the harsh conditions endured by women during conflicts, these also offer an opportunity for change as seen in the good practice below. The practice demonstrates how peace and stability measures paved the way for the displaced Yazidi community in Iraq and turn to provide fit-for-purpose land administration.
CASE STUDY: Iraq
Over the years, the Yazidi community in Iraq has experienced massive displacements caused by historical injustices and internal conflicts. Most Yazidis have never been issued with a certificate of ownership due to discriminatory policies dating back 40 years. In 2014, armed violence escalated which led to massive destruction of homes and infrastructure. This, in turn, resulted in the displacement of over 3.2 million people. Over 250,000 Yazidis were forced to flee following the invasion of Sinjar, and unoccupied Yazidi settlements were systematically demolished.