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Afghan women have more say in money that they earned themselves than property in marriage

Afghan women have more say in money that they earned themselves than property in marriage

Jun 13, 2017 - 12:42

KABUL (Pajhwok): The proportion of women who have the authority of spending money that they earned themselves is higher than those having personal properties in Afghanistan, a survey reveals.

 “The Demographic Survey of Afghanistan,” a joint venture of the Central Statistics Organization (CSO) and the Ministry of Public Health, was launched between June 2015 and February 2016.

This survey was conducted in 25,650 residential households, in which 7020 in urban areas and 18630 in rural areas. The sample data was the result of 29541 completed interviews with ever-married women aged 15-49, in which 7878 interviews in urban areas and 21663 interviews in rural areas.

 The sample data was also result of about 11859 completed interviews with men aged 15-49, in which 3163 interviews were in urban areas and 8696 interviews in rural areas.

Sole control over assets in marriage

1 in 8 afghan women work outside the home and of the women working outside the home, about 6 in 8 earn cash. Among 10 women who work outside the home for income, four said they decided on their own about the  income they earn while. Only two among 10 married women said they owned personal homes and one out of 10 married women said she owned personal land property.

Control over income earned by women working outside the home

Overall, over half of women who earn money outside the home retain some control over how that money is spent. Based on the report women who shared decision regarding their income with husbands or family members were one and half times greater than those women who were independent in decision making regarding their income.

 Although only one in 10 women worked outside the home in the last 12 months and of those, only  7 in 10 were paid in cash, the fact that so many retain control over those earnings shows that female employment can be a route to equality.

Zainab Haibat, a teacher at Abdul Ghafoor Nadem High School in Kabul, said she used to save her and her husband salary and they mutually decided on spending. Married 32 years ago, Zainab has been working and contributing to household income.

She said the cash at her disposal did not mean her husband could not spend the money.

Zainab said: “If I or my husband spends money, we don’t hold each other accountable. We respect each other and this is why we have a good life.”

She said in some families women spent money and while in others only males did so. She added: “I have never heard a wife or a husband has refused to help each other when it comes to cash.”


 The impact of education

Women who completed their secondary education are more likely than women who didn’t to have a say in how their earnings are spent.

7 out of 10 women who work outside the home who have no education or primary education have no say in how their earnings are spent and the decisions are mainly made by a man.

On the contrary, 9 out of 10 women with a secondary education and 8 out of 10 highly educated women who earn income outside of the home have sole or joint decision making power over how that money is spent.  

Making joint decisions increases dramatically with education from 3 in 10 women with no education to five in 10 women with more than secondary education.

Age difference has little role in spending personal income by women. Of women who work outside the home, the youngest women in the study (15-19) and the oldest women (45-49) were the most likely to have a say in how their own income was spent.

The survey also proved true the general impression that women in rural areas have a weak control over family income, compared to women in urban areas. The survey shows that of women who earn money outside the home, 8 in 10 women in urban areas and 7 in 10 women in rural areas make sole or joint decisions about how to spend the income she earns.

The poorest women in Afghanistan are less likely to have independent control over their cash earnings than the richest women in the country.

Personal property

Most of the women interviewed said they owned houses in Logar province and the fewest women own a house in central Bamyan province. On average, about six in 10 women have a house either in their name or jointly in their husband’s names.

Over half of women in Logar, Panjsher, Jawzjan, Helmand, Khost and Laghman provinces have personal houses while less than two percent women in Daikundi, Parwan, Ghor, Kandahar and Badghis provinces own their own home.

Men own house and land twice as often as women.

2 in 5 women and 4 in 5 men own house alone and jointly on their name and also 1 in 4 women and 2 in 4 men own land alone and jointly on their own name.

According to the survey, it’s extremely rare for women in Banyan to own houses.

Most women said they lived in joint family system in Paktia, Uruzgan, Kunar, Nuristan and Laghman provinces, but the number of such women in Paktika, Parwan, Baghlan, Bamyan and Kapisa provinces was limited.

Education has little influence on whether or not houses are solely or jointly in the woman’s name.

Personal land

Overall, few Afghan women own land, only about 2 in 10 have any land rights at all.

Helmand, Khost, Logar and Nuristan are provinces where four in 10 women have personal land properties in their own name. But in Kandahar, Badghis, Parwan and Herat less than one percent of women have personal land. No woman in Bamyan owns personal land.

Halema Rezae, head of the Afghan Women Development Organisation (AWDO) in Bamyan province, said a few women owned house ownership documents or had the right to spend money by their own choice in Bamyan City.

She said in far-flung areas of the province women traditionally owned no private property and littler say in spending money by their own choice.

She said though AWDO she was trying to help women become economically self reliant and spread awareness among them regarding private property right and the right to spend money they earned themselves.

Women from rural areas were three times more likely to own land either alone or jointly than women from urban areas.

Education, wealth and age had little influence on land ownership.

Taj Mohammad Akbar, a university teacher, while stressing economic empowerment and increased literacy among women, said it would have been better if wife and husband spent money mutually because it would help the couple live a better life.

He said women like men have the right to ownership and should not be deprived of this right.

He said more awareness programmes should be arranged to help women accept men’s rights and men accept women’s rights.

Women and Children Legal Research Foundation (WCLRF) head, Zarqa Yaftali, said their study showed that men possessed more properties such as land and houses and have more control over money they compared to women.

She said WCLRF had organized public awareness programs about women’s property inherence right in the capital and 14 other provinces of the country.

Yaftali said the WCLRF was currently advocating for the creation of a system to register women’s properties and work for increasing awareness.

Sahar Aryayee, legislative documents expert at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA), confirmed some Afghan women were denied inheritance and properties as well as control over money.

Working as assistant at the rights department of the Women’s Affairs Ministry, she said the ministry had launched women’s economic empowerment plan over the past two years. Public awareness about women’s properties was part of the plan, she added.

The MoWA recently suggested to the Supreme Court to add registration of women’s properties and control of money they earn to the marriage bill, she said.

Sahar said MoWA in the past had also conducted public awareness programs about women’s inheritance right and the ministry had the plan to increase such programs based a newly developed plan.



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