Women's Access to Land and Property Rights in Eritrea


Tekle, Tsehainesh. 1998. "Women's Access to Land and Property Rights in Eritrea." Paper presented at Inter-Regional Consultation, Kigali, Rwanda, February. 

Author: Tsehainesh Tekle


"The implications of women’s land inheritance for the position of women are very far-reaching. If land inheritance became a generalised feature of Eritrean society, it would be a powerful agent in the empowerment of women, as it would increase women’s economic independence. It is probable that most women in Eritrea are not yet aware of how the new land laws affect their rights and those of their daughters. It is important, therefore, to make information about land laws and their implications widely available.

At this early stage there is a gap between the legal reforms of the EPLF (now the Government of Eritrea) and on-the-ground realities. The implementation of the new laws is not proving an easy matter. For example, ignorance of the law is, along with cultural preferences for early marriage, one of the factors contributing to the continuing pressure to provide a dowry. Also, in spite of the new laws prohibiting discrimination against women, men are still refusing to give them land to which they are legally entitled.

Customary law dictates most rights and restrictions within the community. The latter often conflict - and will do so increasingly - with the new civil code and the provisions of the newly proclaimed Constitution. The implementation of the new land law is a big challenge. In order to speed up the process, the Land Commission should be made stronger. Women’s awareness of their rights must be strengthened, too. And the means and support to follow through the complex and lengthy legal processes must be provided to women, if they are to improve their condition by legal means. The new Constitution does not negate the value of customary law, but it aims to ensure equality for women" (Tekle 1998, 7-8).

Topics: Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Gender Equality/Inequality, Households, Post-Conflict, Rights, Land Rights Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Eritrea

Year: 1998

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