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Women’s Property Rights in Morocco: A New Framework for Looking at Gender Equality Open Access

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Many studies have made the case for the positive relationship between protection of property and wealth creation. Why is a strong system of property rights particularly important for women in the MENA? Women in this region have less ability than men to own and control property due to a set of social and legal constraints. Insecure property rights in most of the MENA countries, undermine women’s empowerment, prevent them form participating in the economic and political spheres and from being free and autonomous. Women’s property rights are most insecure in the MENA region, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa according to the Rockefeller Foundation. Women in the MENA (as well as in the other regions) lack secure property rights for three major reason summarized by the Foundation as follows: Lack of formal legal property rights, lack of the ability to exercise existing property rights and lack of property rights due to customary laws and cultural norms. These major reasons perfectly summarize the situation of women’s property rights in Morocco. “Property” is generally used to refer to “the external things of the the world” (land, estate, assets, etc.). However, a cross-cutting issue that is often overlooked in the literature is one’s property in her or his own self, which is considered to be the basic and founding aspect of property rights. The goal of the present thesis is to analyze the situation of women’s property rights in Morocco on the basis of a “comprehensive” definition of property rights accounting for women’s property in their own selves (freedom of movement, freedom to make decisions and freedom from violence) and in the material things (land and financial assets). It identifies and illustrates the obstacles that limit women’s access to property, discusses how they interplay with one another and suggests possible venues for change. There has been no study done so far to addresses women’s property rights in a MENA country (or any other country) accounting for a comprehensive perspective. My research goal is to bridge this gap by providing a case study about women’s property rights (focusing on Morocco) and setting a new framework to understand and address inequalities. This framework could be used, hopefully, to reform policies and bring about effective change in women’s situation in contexts wherein culture and patriarchy are holding back advancements and limiting government actions.

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