Despite the fact that we are in the era where the biggest number of people is expected to be knowledgeable, countless among us in our society today, still think that a girl child cannot inherit the wealth of her parents.
This is one reason why, if a man produces a number of girls and not boys, he will be heard saying ‘I don’t have a heir’. Some will go as far as sleeping with other women in a bid to at least get a boy child.
Inheritance refers to hereditary succession to a title or property, and that which is inherited passes by law to the heir on the death of the owner.
So people in our society over the time have associated inheritance rights with the boy child because according to them, it gives a kind of assurance that their property is left in more secure hands.
Inheritance rights for children in most societies in Africa are discriminatory. In most cases following a father’s death, the eldest son obtains all of the household property upon marriage; by contrast, daughters do not inherit but become responsible for administering the family property.
In Rwanda, the matter of inheritance according to the 1999 Inheritance and Marital Property Law, guarantees equal rights for men and women, but in practice, social and cultural obstacles prevent women and girls from inheriting.
For example, widows do not automatically inherit the property of a deceased husband.
Many women remain ignorant of their rights due to a lack of available information, and this gives room to discrimination.
Some people forget that most times girls can be good managers of the properties of the deceased parents than their counterparts. Experience has shown that a big number of sons who inherit don’t do much about keeping the legacy of their parents other than misusing the property entrusted to them.
It is because of this reason that the children in the family where the eldest son was left as the custodian of the family property will be left at the mercies of God after the brother has enormously misused what was supposed to belong to them.
Yet on the other side if these properties were to be left in the hands of the eldest daughter, the story would have been different.
However, the point is not on who would or would not preserve the property but on whether, a girl has a right to inherit it as well.
Maybe if we changed our minds about the kind of heir that we need, we would also minimize the rate of suffering to the children that we leave behind when we depart from the world of the living.
On another hand, if we stopped this kind of thinking, it would also minimize the rate at which we produce our kids in the name of looking for a different sex which is also a cause of polygamy in our society.
The denial of inheritance rights of women and girls is also a form of economic discrimination that has proven to be a major cause of violence against them.
Economically disadvantaged women are more vulnerable to violence and exploitation.
Denying women economic power and economic independence is a major cause of violence against them because it prolongs their vulnerability and independence.
I know inheritance should not be looked as a source of start up capital. It’s also great that with education, there lies many opportunities.
We however, need to learn that just like when only the boy child was given consideration for an education, now even girls are.
So, why not the inheritance of property? It’s just an attitude thing that should be done away with.