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Women and inheritance in five Sub-Saharan African countries

Opportunities and challenges for policy and practice change

Elizabeth Cooper


Inheritance is a critical mode of property transfer in Sub-Saharan African countries. Yet, inheritance practices, regulated through both or either statutory and customary laws in African societies, can exclude particular individuals, particularly widowed women and orphaned children, from rights to property that they were able to access during the lives of their husbands or fathers. Gender discrimination in inheritance systems has been described as a violation of human rights, and linked to asset stripping, poverty traps and the intergenerational transmission of poverty. Statutory law reform as well as local practice changes are being targeted by governments and non-governmental organisations in many Sub-Saharan African countries to safeguard the property inheritance of women and children. This paper draws from policy analysis and key informant interviews with governmental and non-governmental actors focused on inheritance policies and practices in Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda and Uganda to discuss several key existing challenges and opportunities for equitable and pro-poor inheritance.

Publication Type(s)

Conference Paper

Ten Years of War Against Poverty Conference Papers

Conference: Ten Years of War Against Poverty


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