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The focus of this thesis is on women’s inheritance rights in Cameroon. For a variety of reasons, inheritance has gained prominence as a public policy issue in African countries. Most notably, inheritance has been addressed as part of a larger problem of discriminatory property rights regimes against women.

One of the goals of this project is to examine the legal framework in Cameroon for the protection of women’s rights to inheritance, which is based primarily on English and French laws. In Cameroon, however, there is a draft family code on inheritance that protects women’s inheritance rights. Customary laws discriminate against women and do not consider women to own land.

Most customs recognize only women’s usufruct rights over land, not ownership rights, even if the women purchase the land themselves. In patrilineal and matrilineal societies, women’s rights to land are derived from men as wives, daughters, sisters, or in-laws. The doctrinal research method is used in this study, which involves content analyses of primary and secondary sources.

As a result, it is of high quality. The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, for example, protects women’s rights to inheritance, according to the findings of this study, and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

Archaic customary laws prohibiting women from inheriting property should be declared repugnant by the legislator to better protect women’s rights in Cameroon. In Cameroon, there is a strong legal framework in place to protect women’s rights. Nonetheless, this protection is not without flaws, especially given the prevalence of violations.




Women, policymakers, and international organizations have all been concerned about the debate over women’s rights in general, and widows’ rights in particular. In a typical traditional African setting, a woman is virtually surrounded by a male-dominated environment.

The men-folk control the various customs that exist in most African countries, as well as the institutions that regulate day-to-day life. Women’s rights are severely hampered in this way. When a customary law marriage falls apart due to death, the widow finds herself as the beneficiary of an inheritance.

Despite the fact that this practice is illegal, there are numerous examples that show that it is gaining popularity. In fact, after a divorce, the woman has few or no rights to the property. “Customary law does not countenance the sharing of property, especially landed property, between husband and wife on divorce,” wrote Inglis, J. in Achu v. Achu.

The wife continues to be considered part of her husband’s property.” Customary law is silent on women’s rights, and our courts appear to apply and follow these practices. The case of Alice Fodje v. Ndansi Kette, on the other hand, appears to support the opposite viewpoint. In this case, the parties were married in 1952 according to the native laws and customs of the people of Bali.

Eight children were born to the couple. The appellant left the matrimonial home in 1981. The respondent married for the second time. The respondent filed a divorce petition in the Bali customary court in 1983. His wish has been granted. There was no order for property adjustment. As a result, the appellant filed a notice of appeal. In a dramatic decision, Justice Arrey ruled that the appellant should live in one of the three houses while also collecting rent from the other two. However, the decision appears to be a stand-alone authority.

1.1 Background To The Study

In many Sub-Saharan African countries, inheritance is a crucial mode of property transfer. An individual’s or group’s accumulated physical assets (or rights of access to these assets) are distributed according to social convention, personal preferences, and potentially static designs at significant life course transitions such as death, birth, marriage, and retirement.

This redistribution of assets can have a positive or negative impact on the economic paths of various individuals. Property heirs gain economic security as a result of the acquisition of new assets or the confirmation of their rights to previously accessed assets. Other people may lose their previously existing rights to assets as a result of inheritance decisions that exclude them.

Women’s poverty research frequently focuses on the safety of women’s access to assets, particularly in African contexts. Women’s land ownership leads to increased welfare, productivity, equality, and empowerment, according to a theory that has gained traction in international development policy circles. For a variety of reasons, inheritance has gained prominence as a public policy issue in African countries.

Most notably, inheritance has been addressed as part of a larger problem of discriminatory property rights regimes against women. Changes to inheritance systems have been advocated as part of a broader reform agenda in international and domestic campaigns to address women’s unequal property rights in African countries.

Insecure recognition as spouses with rights to marital property, either during or after the period of marriage, is a major vulnerability for inheritance rights experienced by the vast majority of women in African countries. This is true in both customary and statutory governance systems. The following are important issues related to this insecurity: customary marriages can be entered or exited informally, making spouse status disputable during inheritance disputes; customary marriages are rarely legally registered, so women cannot claim spouse status under statutory inheritance laws. Statutory laws do not take into account a wife’s contributions to the acquisition of marital property, and statutory inheritance laws do not adequately protect wives in polygamous unions.

Equal rights for men and women, as well as the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, are fundamental human rights and UN values. In light of this, a number of international conventions protecting women’s rights to inheritance have been ratified by states, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the International Bill of Rights, and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, to name a few.

In Cameroon, there is a framework in place to protect women’s inheritance rights. The constitution of Cameroon, the Civil Status Registration Ordinance, the Non-contentious Probate Rules of 1954, Section 46 (1) of the Administration of Estates Act 1925, and the French Civil Code of 1804 serve as the foundation for this framework.

The landmark case of Zamcho Florence Lum v. Chibikom Peter Fru, decided by the Supreme Court, lends credence to the fact that women’s right to inheritance is protected in Cameroon. The Supreme Court of Cameroon, in overturning the Court of Appeal’s decision, held that the customary principle denying a female the right to inherit her father’s property or to be declared next of kin is contrary to natural justice, equity, and good conscience.

1.2 Statement Of The Problem

In Cameroon, there is a legal framework in place to protect women’s right to inheritance; however, it is not without flaws. In Cameroon, women’s marginalization, or better yet, inequality, is a common occurrence. Cameroon has yet to fully implement international and national legal instruments that protect women as a vulnerable group. Women are subjected to antiquated and discriminatory customs.

Non-payment of dowry may deprive a woman of inheriting property. Even though section 61(2) of the Civil Status Registration Ordinance 1981 prohibits the payment of dowry as a condition necessary for a valid marriage, curiously, in Maya Ikome v Manga Ekemason formal none payment of dowry led the Buea Court of Appeal in the South West Province of Cameroon, to award property collectively acquired over thirty years of marriage by a widower and his deceased wife to the family on the premise that non-payment of dowry by the man invalidated the marriage.

Customary laws discriminate against women and do not consider women to own land. Most customs recognize only women’s usufruct and not ownership rights over land even over land purchase by the women themselves.  Women’s right to land is therefore derived from men either as wives, daughters, sisters, or in-laws in both patrilineal and matrilineal societies. This situation is boosted by patriarchy; a belief in a world where men dominate and control women.

1.3 Research Questions

This research seeks to answer the following questions

  1. Discuss the concept of women’s rights to land and the causes for discrimination?
  2. How effective are the measures put in place to promote women’s inheritance rights in Cameroon?
  3. What policy recommendations can be made to redress the problems raised?

1.4 Objectives of the study

This study seeks to

  1. To discuss the concept of women’s rights to land and the causes for discrimination
  2. To bring out the effectiveness of measures put in place to promote women’s inheritance rights In Cameroon
  3. To propose policy recommendations

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