Notes to broadcasters
The spread of HIV/AIDS is associated with an increase in the loss of property rights by widows. Many people believe that customary laws deny women inheritance rights. But more often it is a misinterpretation of these laws that results in women being denied their rights. In fact, the initial intent of customary laws was to ensure that widows and their children were provided for after the death of a husband.
Many organizations, such as the YWCA, offer assistance and support to women by educating them about the laws and by offering legal assistance. A list of a few other organizations appears at the end of this script.
Invite lawyers, paralegals or community workers who are knowledgeable about inheritance laws to come to your radio station to discuss women and property rights. Following is a sample interview with a legal expert discussing some important considerations for women.
To help us answer these and other questions, we’ve invited a lawyer, Mrs. Elizabeth Mutwa, to join us.
Welcome to the show Mrs. Mutwa.
- First: Discuss the importance of making a will with your husband. Encourage him to make a will in the presence of witnesses.
- Number two: Find out if it is possible to register the home where you live with your husband. If you can, you will remain the owner of the land and house after your husband’s death.
- Number three: Get legal advice from a lawyer, a paralegal or a local organization that offers this type of assistance. They can help you understand your rights and the law.
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- Contributed by Jennifer Pittet, Thornbury, Canada.
- Reviewed by Emily Frank, Department of Anthropology, Indiana University, USA.
- Correspondence with Matrine Chuulu, WLSA, Zambia, and Emily Frank, Department of Anthropology, Indiana University.
- Makena, Margaret, and Moses Ochanji. “Women, property and inheritance.” UNESCO, 2000.
- Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF)
Plot 1311, Lubu Road, Longacres
PO Box 31456, Lusaka, Zambia
WiLDAF promotes the effective use of a variety of strategies, including law, by women for self, community, national, sub-regional and regional development.
- Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA)
Nationalist Road (Opposite University Teaching Hospital)
PO Box 50115, Lusaka, Zambia
- Women’s Voice
PO Box 231
Women’s Voice works to foster awareness of women’s property and inheritance rights and rules of law.
- Strickland, Richard. “To have and to hold: Women’s property and inheritance rights in the context of HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa.” June 2004. Published in collaboration with the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS.