Essential to women's daily survival, economic security and physical safety, access to and control over land, property and housing is widely accepted to be one of the most critical factors in the struggle for women's equality. IHRLG and our partner activists in Africa launched a long-term international advocacy campaign to make critical linkages between denial of women's right to inherit with violence against women and extreme poverty.
Through our international advocacy training program (Advocacy Bridge), activists from Benin, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo have joined IHRLG delegations to the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) in raising awareness of the denial of women's inheritance rights in Africa and the resultant violence and extreme poverty widows and their families experience, and how the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa impacts an already devastating situation. In collaboration with our 2000 and 2001 women's inheritance delegation members, IHRLG helped ensure that the UNCHR passed a resolution on women's equal rights to property and to adequate housing, and made certain that the issue of inheritance rights was explicitly addressed in those Resolutions.
To enhance the outcomes of our annual delegations to the UNCHR and the special activities we conduct in Geneva during Commission proceedings, IHRLG directs an international electronic letter-writing campaign to relevant United Nations Officials. Hundreds of groups in Africa and other regions have joined our efforts.
- The goal of our first letter-writing campaign in 1999, which we reached, was the agreement of the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women to address the connection between widow's disinheritance and violence against women in her 2000 report to the UNCHR. The Special Rapporteur subsequently conducted a fact-finding mission to eastern Nigeria where disinheritance practices are acute.
- Directed to the UN Independent Expert on Extreme Poverty, our 2000 letter-writing campaign requested in the inclusion of women's disinheritance as a factor creating and exacerbating conditions of extreme poverty in the Independent Expert's 2000 report to the UNCHR. To help ensure the reaching of the 2000 goal, IHRLG and our Africa partners (listed below) also presented the Independent Expert with primary documentation on cases of disinherited widows in West Africa. Subsequently, the Independent Expert included a section on women's disinheritance in her 2000 report.
- Our 2000 documentation report partners were the Inter-African Union for Human Rights (Burkina Faso), International Federation of Women Lawyers (Cameroon), Eveil de la Femme (Democratic Republic of Congo), Leadership and Advocacy for Women in Africa Alumnae, Inc. (Ghana), Malawi Center for Advice, Research and Education on Rights (Malawi), Women's Aid Collective (Nigeria), International Federation of Women Lawyers (Nigeria), Women's Legal Aid Center (Tanzania) and the Groupe de Réflexion et d'Action Femme, Démocratie, et Développement (Togo).
- IHRLG directed our 2001 letter-writing campaign to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, requesting that the program integrate women's inheritance concerns in their strategic plan for arresting the epidemic and its residual effects.