When Nasiba’s husband passed away last year, a quarrel broke out over who should inherit their home.
A cook, a mother of three, and now a widow of an Afghan soldier, Nasiba faced pressure from her in-laws to move out. As a woman living in a non-planned area in Gozar 6 in Bamiyan province, she lacked proof of ownership and feared eviction.
In Balkh Province, another mother of three feared eviction for her children. Latifa, a seamstress, had slowly scraped together just enough money to build a home on a small plot.
Four years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer; the cancer is now back and the prognosis grim. Latifa feared that after her death her children, all aged 18 and younger, with neither papers nor legal standing, would soon be homeless.
Given the social, economic, and cultural importance of property ownership, equitable access to land is key to empowering Afghan women.
Supporting Afghan women's property ownership rights
This effort has been supported initially by the UN Habitat's City for All Program, and subsequently through the Afghanistan Land Administration System Project (ALASP) financed by the World Bank and the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF). So far MUDL has issued 34,370 Occupancy Certificates (OC) and more than half include a woman's name.
These initiatives have helped Nasiba, Latifa and many other Afghan women acquire certificates that prove their rightful ownership and protect them from eviction, encroachment, or dispute. The legal documents also guarantee they can pass on their property to their children and shield them from homelessness.
The OC program has also established Cadastral Territorial Unit Committees (CTUCs) to support coordination and help mediate land disputes. As mandated, 30 percent of CTUC members are female. A Women Land Rights Task Force, with representatives from 15 government departments, meets regularly to address gender-related challenges in the sector.
ALASP is working to ensure that land administration and women's property ownership laws are implemented in practice.
These officers work daily with beneficiaries like Lailoma, a Jalalabad resident whose husband preferred to put only his name on the OC for their property. Seeking some control over the family’s savings, and a hedge in case of an unforeseen catastrophe, Lailoma worked with the female help desk to convince her husband of the benefits of co-ownership.
It will also raise awareness on women's rights to own land, facilitate women's access to government offices to file a claim, and increase female staff in governmental land administration institutions.