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Exclusion and Norms: Enforcing Women's Right to Property in Jordan

Property ownership is a male domain in Jordan, where women are dependent on men for housing. A patriarchal pattern of power dominates both inheritance and property. While the inheritance rights of women are formally enshrined in the constitution, in Islamic law (Sharia), and in the customary law, female heirs continue to face social pressure to renounce their rights in favor of male heirs. Inheritance is one of three pillars of economic independence for women, with dowry and employment. Women’s rights activists have succeeded in amending the Jordanian Personal Status Law No. 36 of 2010 by working with the Sharia Supreme Court (Qādī al-Qudā). The most important amendment introduced a mandatory three months after the death of the owner before either exclusion (takhāruj) or power of attorney (wakāla) could be invoked. The gender inequality embedded in the inheritance system creates a “glass ceiling” which hinders the economic and social progress of women in Jordan.

Myriam Ababsa is a Social Geographer based in Jordan since 2000. Her work focuses on the impact of public policies on regional and urban development in Jordan and Syria. Associate researcher at the French Institute for the Near-East (Institut Français du Proche-Orient), she has directed the Atlas of Jordan. History, Territories, Society (Beirut : Ifpo 2013, 485 p. She has co-edited with Dr. Rami Daher, Cities, Urban Practices and Nation Building in Jordan (Beirut: IFPO, 2011 and co-edited with Baudouin Dupret and Eric Denis Popular Housing and Urban Land Tenure in the Middle East (University of Cairo Press, 2012).

She holds a PhD in Geography from the University François Rabelais of Tours (2004) (Syrian Studies Association, Best Doctoral Dissertation Prize, Special Mention, 2006)