Property Rights of Men and Women

Property Rights are important for both men and women. What are these rights? What does the law say? Get full information on property ownership and rights

What is ownership of land, house, and company?

Ownership of any of the movable and immovable property comes under the property rights. Property rights are the rights to own, acquire (through purchase, gift, or inheritance), manage, enjoy, and dispose of tangible and intangible property, including land, house, money, bank accounts and other assets, livestock, and crops.

Why are women property rights important?

Unless women are granted property rights, a country can’t develop. Women property rights promote gender equality, which eventually leads to development. Lack of these rights causes underemployment of women and keeps them impoverished. According to UN Habitat, every 1 in 4 developing countries have laws that impede women from owing property. As argued by World Bank, countries with the unequal inheritance laws have also unequal property rights regimes.

Hence, women’s property rights are important, as these are fundamental to women’s economic security, social and legal status, and sometimes their survival.  Land and property ownership empowers women and provides income and security. Without property rights, women have limited say in household decision-making, and no recourse to the assets during crises (be it divorce or death of a husband or any other difficult situation). The lack of property rights also results in domestic violence.

What are the women property rights?

Women, under the international law, have equal property rights. It applies for both movable and immovable (or tangible and intangible) properties. However, in many countries of the world, women property rights are limited by norms, religious traditions, social customs and legislation.

To what other issues have women property rights linked to?

Like other human rights issues, women property rights are linked to discriminatory inheritance practices, agriculture, gendered control over economic resources, right to work and domestic violence or violence against women.

Granting women equal property rights means decreased threat of discrimination, domestic violence and other human rights violations. It also has positive impact on political participation and women empowerment.

What are the international regulations on women property rights?

The international human rights law requires equal protection of property rights of both men and women. Property rights are actually human rights. Women’s right to land and property, being the inalienable human right, is also related to adequate standards of living, right to housing and freedom from forced evictions. These rights are guaranteed in the following international instruments

International Instruments/Convention

Relevant Article

Article Text

Universal Declaration of Human Rights


Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women


States to ensure that men and women
are treated equally in their right to family benefits are treated equally in land and agrarian reform as well as in land resettlement schemes enjoy adequate living conditions, particularly in relation to housing, have equal rights to conclude contracts and to administer property have the same rights for both spouses in respect of the ownership, acquisition, management, administration, enjoyment and disposition of property, whether free of charge or for a valuable consideration.

Both the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights require that there will be no discrimination based on the “property” of a person.


The Beijing Platform for Action (announced in 1995) has also required that women’s right to inheritance and ownership of land and property should be recognized and governments should take legislative and reform measures to remove disparities. Women’s property rights are also implicit in Millennium Development, specifically Goal 1 on eradicating extreme poverty and Goal 3 on gender equality. The goals to reduce or eradicate poverty and achieving gender equality will remain distant if women are not granted property rights.

What leads to the violation of women’s property rights?

The fundamental factors for violations include “discriminatory laws and traditional customs, prejudiced attitude towards women property rights, indifferent authorities and inefficient court system. Those women who assert for their rights are termed as “greedy”.

What are the consequences of women property right abuses?

These violations make women dependent on men. They remain poor and are not treated equal to men. They have to live in abject living conditions and are always at the risk of violence both in their parent’s home and in-laws. The main consequence of these abuses is that the country remains underdeveloped.

What are the benefits of women property rights?

Property rights confer many benefits on women and their families including increased bargaining power, (Social Protection and Economic Autonomy. Women property rights increase the bargaining power of women both in and outside the household and views are heard.

While in the developing countries, parents are usually dependent on their children. Children take care of the parents if parents retain control over their productive assets and are enjoying property rights. Strong property rights give women the much-needed economy whether they are living with their parents or husband. If they lack access to property rights, they remain dependent and their household work and other activities remain invisible and unaccounted for.