Women and Land in the Arab region-New

Women’s housing, land and property rights are catalyst to ensure the social and economic development of communities
and increase food security. They contribute to the realisation and enjoyment of a broad range of human rights such
as the right to adequate standard of living, adequate housing, health, work and education. Housing, land and
property rights increase women’s empowerment and participation in decision making within the household and in the
public life. They help protecting women from gender-based violence and other health hazards, and they enable women
to play an active role in the stabilization of societies affected by crisis and conflict.

The challenges women face in relation to the access and enjoyment of their housing, land and property rights is
part of the broader gender inequalities that reflect many aspects of the Arab society. The Women and Land
Campaign promoted by UN-Habitat, the Global Land Tool Network and the Arab Land Initiative aims at raising
awareness on how to overcome such challenges and at empowering women to improve their housing, land and property
rights while drawing the public’s attention to this important theme.

The Campaign is promoted by UN-Habitat, as part of its  mandate to achieve a better urban future for all,
and by the partners of the Stand for Her Land Campaign, including the World Bank, the International Land
Coalition, Landesa, and Habitat for Humanity.

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Why women’s land rights matter

Improving women’s HLP rights in the Arab region is a matter of urgency. Women’s access to, use of and control over land, and other productive resources, has proved to benefit a broad range of social, economic, and peacebuilding goals.

Improving women’s land rights

Women in the Arab region can access a wide range of land tenure options spread along the continuum of land rights. Such tenure options can be individual or joint with family or community members, and more or less secure, depending on whether formalized and recorded or just protected by customary and social norms. Substantial national and local variations exist in the processes and tenure options through which women access land. To identify the most suitable option, it is necessary to recognize the diversity of women and identify their specific needs.

Crises and displacement

The Arab region is home to 50 million people who need humanitarian assistance, including nearly 14 million forcibly displaced (OCHA June 2020). More than half are women. Their pre-existing vulnerabilities have been exacerbated by conflicts, displacement, and the breaking down of family, community, and institutional support systems. In such contexts, upholding women’s housing, land and property rights significantly contributes to women’s protection and to their ability to overcome the circumstances and rebuild their lives and societies out of crisis. Increased and coordinated efforts must reach as many women as possible in a timely and effective manner.

Empowerment and participation

The nexus between housing, land and property rights and women’s empowerment and participation in decision making has two key dimensions: one related to the enjoyment of their HLP rights and one to their participation in land-related processes. Housing land and property rights are an essential precondition for women to feel safe, respected and legitimate members of their families, communities and societies. Land and property rights are a crucial factor in defining and enhancing women’s status and participation in municipal planning, community decision-making and even local elections. As such, they are an essential enabler of women’s empowerment and participation. On the other hand, it is important to ensure women are empowered to meaningfully engage and participate in land-related processes, such as land administration and land management and also peace negotiations, implementation of peace agreements, and restitution or compensation in conflict-affected contexts.

Islamic Law

In the Arab region, Islamic land law informs practices and permeates national laws. Islamic principles are incorporated into land-related laws and regulations, which present many commonalities and multiple national variations. One of the main challenges encountered is that Islamic land law is often misinterpreted by justice administrators and communities, leading to the enforcement of gender discriminatory practices under the wrong assumption that they are Islamic principles.


Second Arab Land Conference Expert Group Meeting on land tenure security and socio-economic development especially for women in the Arab region