Like many African countries, Sierra Leone has a dual land tenure system, with aspects from the colonial era and customary ownership varying in proportion, depending on location. This creates confusion regarding land rights for women, says Catherine Gatundu, natural resource rights coordinator at NGO ActionAid International.
The 2007 Devolution of Estate Act criminalizes depriving a woman from inheriting her husband’s property after his death. It recognizes customary marriage, the rights of polygamous spouses, and imposes penalties for evicting a spouse or child from the marital home.
The inheritance should be shared among surviving family, with 35 percent going to the spouse, 35 percent to the children, 15 percent to parents and 15 percent in line with any customary laws.