Women’s Inheritance Rights Around the World

When you inherit wealth from the family, that inheritance greatly affects the economic stability of a person. Women or girls inherit the same as the male of the family in economically well-developed countries. Inheritance law regulates very clearly and beautifully all inheritance rights and who has the right to inherit.

In the country where I live, in Kosovo, laws guarantee equal rights for men and women, but the influence of culture, tradition, economic conditions, and level of education have worked against achieving the equality provided by law. This traditional practice and stigmatization are directly harming the girl in her economic stability. In reality, only 4% of girls inherit, and only 17% of them own property in their name, and this hasn’t changed in years.

I know that although the law states that women have equal rights like men and are also bearers of inheritance, in most cases, women give up their family inheritance voluntarily. Why does this happen? In some families, if you ask the family to inherit wealth, you are being shamed as unworthy, because you claim to take the property from your brother to your spouse.

Women in my country have the right to inherit but their right is silent, they don’t accept or receive anything from the inheritance for the sole reason not to break ties with the brother. The main factor here is the patriarchal mentality. This mentality must be radically uprooted from every family and both girls and boys should be treated equally in their right to inherit. Favoring men should not be allowed at all.

I very much hope that this phenomenon has begun to change from the very reasoning that the parents of the new generations are treating girls the same as boys. This will reflect in the future for the good of the girls and their right to inherit.

The state has already changed some of its practices and has begun to legally secure family ownership. For example, if a property is bought, if you are married, you can’t register the property only in your name, you must register it in the name of both spouses. This is a very good step for Kosovo women because it positively affects their well-being in case the marriage fails.


The Inheritance Law in European Countries

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Africa Studio/shutterstock

While reading and studying the laws of European countries, I have seen that the stronger the state, the stronger the laws and their implementation in practice are. Logically, there is no way it can be different.

Below I will describe the law of Germany in inheritance, who has the right to inherit, and how it is being regulated.

The law in Germany clearly stipulates who are the bearers of the inheritance in case of the death of the person. The right of inheritance belongs to the descendants of the person, while the wife does not appear there because the law has regulated this issue in the marriage law. The right of inheritance belongs to their descendants, including adopted children.

Also, the same laws and practices are applied in France, England, or other European countries, giving equal rights to inherit to all children regardless of their gender.

Of course, every person, whether a girl or a boy, has the right not to accept the inheritance and to give it up within the legal deadlines, but gender is never mentioned.

As we see in economically developed countries, there is no gender discrimination when inheritance is applied. It stands out here that women automatically have fewer rights in patriarchal states and poorer countries.


The Right to Inherit in Less Developed Countries

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Africa Studio/shutterstock

Studies have shown that the largest percentage of women who either do not inherit or when they do should marry a cousin, is in the Middle Eastern states. In the Middle East women are trampled every day in different forms, without mentioning the inheritance issues.

This form of inheritance, to get married to a cousin, to ‘keep it in the family’, will create consequences on the freedom of women, due to the patriarchal mentality.

In male-dominated societies, female inheritance often means that women function mainly as carriers of property from father to husband, rather than as active managers of their property.


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Jirapong Manustrong/shutterstock

In a conclusion, gender equality is not only an issue of social justice but is paramount for achieving social development in an effective and efficient manner, as well as for the elimination of poverty. Overcoming traditional barriers, in which women are denied inheritance and property capacity, will enable the improvement of women’s personal life. It is known that women benefit from gender equality, but this argument emphasizes that men and families also benefit, knowing the importance and interdependence of relationships and social roles.


Photo: fizkes/shutterstock


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