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Pakistan: Empowering women through access to justice

Photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova from Pexels

Ms. Faiza Mubarak

Assistant Project Coordinator at Transparency International Pakistan

When Bibi Sajida’s father died in 2016, he left behind two wives, six sons and two daughters. Pakistan’s inheritance law entitles all children of the deceased (both male and female) as their legal heirs. However, the four sons from his first marriage surreptitiously applied to inherit their father’s property, claiming themselves as the sole legal heirs. They successfully obtained a succession certificate and gained control of their father’s bank account, with approximately 1,500,000 Pakistani rupees (around US$5,250). As a result Bibi, her sisters, and two other younger stepbrothers, were unjustly deprived of their inheritance rights.

Despite constitutional provisions granting women the right to own and inherit property, women, like Bibi Sajida, often find themselves fighting to enforce these rights. Many women – particularly those from rural areas or lower socio-economic backgrounds – lack the financial means and legal knowledge to pursue their claims. This is evident in the statistic that 97 per cent of women did not inherit land or housing, according to Pakistan's 2017-2018 Demographic and Health Survey.

Bibi Sajida was no different until she saw the Access to Justice awareness campaign organised by TI Pakistan during the COVID-19 pandemic. After seeing their information on a wide range of topics, including property and inheritance law, and right to information (RTI) laws, she understood her rights and decided to act.

Bridging the justice gap: ALAC's impact on access to justice in Pakistan

In this context, where women are often disproportionately affected by corruption, Bibi Sajida reached out to Transparency International Pakistan’s Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre (ALAC), which is at the forefront of empowering women to access legal services and claim their legal rights. In the ALAC, they clarified she and her other siblings were also entitled to their father’s estate -- under Pakistan Succession Act 1925 -- despite it being unlawfully claimed by their four brothers. Boldly, she decided to claim her rights.

After a legal battle that took months, she successfully demonstrated to the court that she and her siblings had been deprived of their inheritance. The four brothers withdrew half of the funds from their late father's account, but Bibi Sajida and her siblings were still able to each receive their legal share of the money remaining in the bank.

Bibi Sajida’s case highlights the challenges women encounter when it comes to inheritance. It also exemplifies the potential for success that emerges when women are equipped with legal awareness and the necessary tools to combat the gender dimensions of corruption. Even in cases where women have legal rights on paper – like in Pakistan – the reality is often quite different. Systemic corruption and discrimination frequently hinder women from exercising their rights and claiming their fair share in society. Transparency International Pakistan’s Access to Justice campaign and the ALAC provide crucial information and services that help women to claim their rights. Through these efforts, small steps are taken every day toward the goal of truly equal treatment under the law.

Transparency International’s Advocacy and Legal Advice Centres (ALACs) provide free and confidential legal advice to witnesses and victims of corruption. With more than 100 offices in more than 60 countries, ALACs provide an accessible, effective way for people to report corrupt, access public information and demand action.

Learn more: Advocacy and Legal Advice Centres -




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