The inheritance procedure in Kosovo favours men and discriminates against women. Particularly vulnerable are women who are economically dependent on their male relatives, because women often face family pressure to give up their inheritance.
According to the Kosovo Cadastral Agency (KCA), since 2017 only 17% of women have properties registered in their name. Whereas, only about 5% of women have inherited property.
In women’s lives these low numbers directly translate into economic and social problems, violent marriages and a lack of economic independence. In order to create a platform for Kosovar women to realize their right to inheritance, the Women’s Association “Aureola”, has implemented the “Advancement of the Law of Inheritance”.
49 people (41 women and 8 men) are direct beneficiaries from this initiative, whilst the number of indirect beneficiaries (increased awareness and information sharing) is significantly higher. The intiative’s implementation was accompanied by several television appearances, and was made possible by the Kosovo Women’s Fund.
Sanije Grajçevci, Executive Director of “Aureola”, talks about the benefits gained from this initiative which was the first of its kind for this organization.
“We have established new contacts and expanded the institutional and civil society network of collaborators. Although we already have experience in this issue, we have learned and gained new experience from the information provided by the staff of the Fund”, she said.
The executive director of KWN, Igballe Rogova, during a roundtable discussion hosted by Aureola in February 2019, said that the problem does not lie in the laws, but in the lack of their implementation.
“Earlier, property rights were taboo, but now we are having some positive developments. KWN has campaigned in 5 municipalities, where we went door to door and asked the women if they need to register the property in their names. If yes, we offered them help to cover the administrative expenses”, said Rogova.
A notary also spoke about the positive impacts of this initiative, during an activity organized by Aureola.
“Listening and analysing this issue more deeply, I started to look carefully at the behaviour and attitudes of my family members about inheritance. As a result, I realized that I needed to work harder on my family. As a parent, I have a responsibility to treat my children as equal,” he said.
The Kosovo Assembly Legislation Committee, Women’s Group of Deputies, the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MLSW), the Agency for Gender Equality (AGE), Free Legal Aid Agency, Kosovo Notaries Chamber, Work Centre and Social Welfare-Obiliq, the Lobby for Gender Equality (Lobby), and the Coalition for Equality (CfE), compiled a long list of civil society and institutions with which “Aureola” has consulted and held meetings, before coming up with the following proposal:
- To amend the Law on Inheritance no.2004/26, respectively to drop completely the chapter III, Article 130 regarding the waiver of the right to inheritance. Consequently, to permanently drop all other derivative articles (Article 131, 132, 133, 134, 135, 136 and 137) in the Law on Inheritance and these same changes to apply also in the Law on Non-Contested Procedures, regarding the Articles dealing with waiving the right to inheritance (Article 164).
This amendment is crucial and needed for the public interest, ensuring that women’s rights to inheritance are being respected. The request for amending the Law on Inheritance has been sent to the Committee on Legislation in the Assembly of Kosovo, the Women’s Group of Deputies and the Members of the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo.
Women’s economic empowerment is very important for achieving a society where women and men have equal access to opportunities in education, employment, and participation in politics, health, and a life without violence. The activities undertaken within this initiative have significantly assisted toward improving the economic position of Kosovar women.