Economic marginalization is a key feature of gender inequality globally. In Pakistan, which ranks 153 out of 156 countries on the Global Gender Gap Index Report 2020, economic marginalization has significantly hampered efforts towards inclusivity. In comparison to dismal levels of female literacy and formal occupation (traditional measures of development), inheritance is an interesting category—a right enshrined both in Islam (the official state religion) and the country’s constitution. Given Pakistan’s agrarian and otherwise rent-seeking economic orientation, land inheritance plays a pivotal role in financial wellbeing regardless of gender. However, a pervasive denial of women’s inheritance rights has been the norm. Considering the data and impelled by its international obligations, the Government criminalized denial of inheritance in 2011, followed by a series of legal and institutional reforms in the province of Punjab. These reforms include provisions for help desks dedicated to women at key offices, digitization of land records, and clamping down on anti-women practices that aid denial of inheritance. It is alarming to note that not much has changed in terms of women’s land inheritance since 2011. To understand what is impeding the amendment’s efficacy, the study frames these developments from a socialist feminist perspective and captures the opinions of experts engaged with the cause in various capacities. We selected Punjab as a case study and recruited twelve legal, revenue, Islamic, and women’s right experts through purposive sampling. In-depth interviews were conducted, and the findings were thematically organized. Experts largely agreed that cultural change is a long-term process and that there has been a patriarchal monopoly of Islamic interpretation. On a more practical end, issues plaguing developing economies were highlighted in addition to institutionalized patriarchy, female mobility, patriarchal control of citizenship and land documents, and bureaucratic hurdles. We recommend the recruitment of more female staff in all relevant offices, adoption of better data management practices catering to institutional harmony, and that district inheritance committees be operationalized, among other measures.
Rubab, Iram; Malik, Beenish; and Bakht Aziz, Zujajah
"Do Legal and Institutional Reforms in Punjab, Pakistan Protect Women’s Inherited Land Rights?,"
Journal of International Women's Studies: Vol. 25:
4, Article 5.