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This year’s International Women’s Day celebrations in Palestine witnessed an innovative initiative by two associations in the field of housing, land and property (HLP). The YMCA-East Jerusalem and WCLAC (Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling) joined forces to focus on joint marital property, with the support of the European Union representation in the Palestinian Territories.

The two associations commissioned a Palestinian lawyer to investigate the issues surrounding joint marital property from the legal and the socio-economic points of view, bearing in mind experiences in other countries with Muslim cultural backgrounds. A publication has been issued together with a leaflet.

One of the investigation’s main findings is that “the Palestinian law does not contain legislation on spouses’ separation of estates; however, traditionally, there is separation of estates based on Islamic Sharia”. The study also listed seven main recommendations including:

  1. There is urgent need to intensify societal awareness campaigns among women especially about joint property in marriage and the necessity of legally documenting women’s rights.
  2. There is an urgent need to engage men in these issues, especially young men so that there is greater awareness at a younger age about men’s roles and opportunities to contribute to change, especially on women’s economic rights, especially on the joint marital property rights.
  3. It is also important that women press for legal procedures to enable the wife to benefit from the special provisions item on the marriage certificate to confirm wife’s rights to joint property.

These two Palestinian Non-Government Organizations are already known to the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN) through their involvement in a European Union funded programme to defend women’s basic inheritance rights. Representatives from both organizations had participated in a GLTN workshop dedicated to women’s Housing, Land and Property rights (Amman 2016) which had, in fact, triggered their interest in joint marital property as a priority topic.

The International Women’s Day celebrations thus provided a moment to reflect on this subject of women’s land, housing and property rights. A number of Palestinian cities even displayed posters on this important topic, such as the one below.

My Rights are a strength for us.
I sign the loan, and the house is registered in his name.

Submitted by:  Rafik Khouri, Advisor for International Affairs - Arab Union of Surveyors