This anthology contains five true stories told by Syrian women throughout 2019 and 2020 as part of Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and UNDP’s work on women’s Housing, Land and Property (HLP) rights in Syria. These stories aim to bring women’s experiences to light through their own voices, as they talk about their struggle to claim their property rights.
Property rights are central to a woman’s survival when the household breaks down, whether in the event of death, divorce or separation, all of which have increased during the conflict. The ability to control and benefit from having a place to call ‘home’ can empower women, increase their sense of security and ensure that they are included in the future of Syria, especially because violence and displacement continue to disproportionately affect them. Rebuilding Syria presents an opportunity to address the long-standing gender inequalities in women’s HLP rights that are illustrated by these stories.
While Syrian laws regarding property rights are biased towards men, they do recognise women’s right to property and set out the conditions for women’s inheritance according to Sharia and different personal status laws. However, traditional customs have long ignored these protections as described in the stories. The stories and family trees included in the anthology illustrate how discriminatory practices have been passed down from one generation to the next causing women to give up their inheritance.
Azhaar’s story shows how the circumstances stemming from the conflict in Syria have exacerbated women’s inequality. However, the stories of and Layla and Safiya are emblematic of how property rights can empower women and their families over generations.
This anthology is dedicated to all Syrian women in search for a place to call home where they can live securely; to all women who are claiming rights for their survival and their survival of their children; and to all men who are taking action to ensure their wives and children can enjoy HLP rights. This anthology offers a tribute to Syrian women and their resilience and courage.
We would like to acknowledge and thank everyone who made sharing these stories possible. We publish these stories in the hope that all Syrian women aware of their rights, are inspired and encouraged to exercise them or, if necessary, demand them, and to foster a sense of solidarity and community.