How do women receive inheritance? The processes of Turkish women’s inclusion and exclusion from property

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Toktaş Ş., O’Neil M. L.

Asian Women, vol.29, pp.25-50, 2013 (SSCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 29
  • Publication Date: 2013
  • Doi Number: 10.14431/aw.2013.
  • Journal Name: Asian Women
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.25-50
  • Police Academy Affiliated: No


© 2013, Research Institute of Asian Women. All rights reserved.This article employs Turkey as a case study to explore the relationship between property ownership, inheritance, and women’s empowerment. In Turkey, as in much of the world, men dominate ownership of property. This is despite the fact that women have had equal rights to own and inherit property since 1926. With the establishment of the Republic in 1923 came a series of reforms, one of which replaced Islamic Sharia law with a secular civil law that was based on the Swiss Civil Code. The new law, among other things, guaranteed equal rights of property and inheritance regardless of gender. In an attempt to understand the tangled relationship between property and women’s empowerment, we conducted interviews regarding inheritance practices among ideologically secular, wealthy women in Istanbul. For these women and their families, the logic of wealth distribution is deeply informed by a commitment to equality between children with little regard for gender. Even in those cases where strict equality in terms of sameness was not employed, the goal was for an overall balance and fairness between recipients. Despite the fact that inheritance law provides for equality, most of the families employed intervivos transfer, gifts among the living, to distribute their family wealth. Perhaps most interesting, and in contrast to the literature, is the fact that these women do not express any sense of empowerment derived from their status as property owners. Rather education and career proved more important.