Equal inheritance – What does it mean and why is it important?

When someone passes away, their wealth and property need to be passed on to someone legally.

  • The deceased may have specified who this person or persons are. If they have not then the law of the country will list who should inherit it. This may be their wife or husband or their children.
  • In some countries there are laws that allow the wealth and property to pass only to males or perhaps the most valuable property, the land, passes only to males.

In some countries there may not be laws stating this but tradition encourages that the males inherit the valuable property or all of the property.
This means that some of the family will not benefit.
If the wealth is passed down equally though, the whole family benefits. Both the sons and daughters of the deceased and both of their grandchildren and great grandchildren benefit. This means that the legacy of the deceased helps all of their family to thrive.
Where the inheritance is passed down unequally, females in particular lose out. This is because:

  • Females will lose the opportunities that they would have, had they inherited some of the wealth such as a chance at making a livelihood with the land or the wealth.
  • Even if there is little passed on, the female is still disadvantaged compared to the male who inherited.

This difference in treatment creates an imbalance in society between males and females. This is because:

  1. Females continuously get fewer opportunities
  2. Because they continuously inherit less
  3. Which means they continuously have fewer prospects which would have resulted from the inheritance
  4. Whilst males continue to move up in society from the opportunities that they get

In countries where there are equal inheritance laws; where females are not treated differently to males, their economy tends to be better. When females are not disadvantaged, this benefits everyone as everyone can contribute better to society.
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