Women Rights to Land and Property in the 18th Century

Subject: History
Pages: 5
Words: 1229
Reading time:
5 min
Study level: Bachelor

Introduction

Women in every society have faced several discrimination and challenges. This was rampant in the past where most of the societies gave little chance to the advancement of women in the society. Rights to women include all the resources that the women are entitled to and what there can claim in society. In this present age, the rights may be written in a constitution which in the past was referred to as customary laws. These laws were guarded and presided over by the elders of a particular society. The laws would shape the behaviors of the society members. These laws could not be dictated by women since they are suppressed and their rights have to be channeled through their husbands in society. This paper looks at the integrity of the rights that were given to women in the USA for the procession of land and property in the 18th Century. This aspect was dictated by the different cultures. Across these cultures, women were denied freedom and rights to own resources in society.

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Body

Women’s property rights and women’s living conditions are the rights that are based on the living standards of women. These rights include access to and control over land in the society. Land control comes with the control of housing and property belonging to women. In the 18th Century, the living conditions of women living in the USA were tied to the economic growth of the society. In America, these rights were associated with the survival of women. The reliance of women on these resources was associated with their empowerment in women’s reliance on the land. As society increased, more men migrated to the urban areas for employment opportunities. They left these resources behind for the women who took full responsibility for the land to cultivate and generate their income from the farm.

Legal aspects of the women were also featured during this time. Most historians echoed their concern over the treatment of women. In society, women were considered incompetent. They were categorized as children, the idiots in society, and all those people who were regarded as criminals in English law. This entitled them to no consideration in the sharing of the resources. They were denied justice and the whole society was senseless and insensitive about their share in the community.

Law, custom, and tradition were other factors that dictated women’s rights on property. These acted as the security measure for these important assets in society. Some of these laws in America were gender-based. These laws would protect the women or fail to protect them at all. Less privilege was given to the women in land titling systems and payment of land expenses that women would not afford. The customary laws were against the powers of women. These laws were interpreted by men in the society as laws that were to deny American women the right to own a piece of land or house concerning their identity. 1The laws pointed out that in case a woman dissolves her marriage, their share of the property would still not belong to them. For such cases, the next of kin in the husband’s family was to be responsible for the land and any other property. Widows would have no share of the resources irrespective of the size of the family they had.

The 18th-century international legal framework recognized women’s right to land. These laws were aimed at creating an equal share of resources between men and women. In colonial times, as in the motherland of England, the limited rights given to women on these properties were revised. There was a substantial consideration of the control over the resources in the family. In different countries within the USA, the laws required for instance that in case of recognition of the title deed, both the man and her wife would both have the signature on the land or property. In cases where the property is to be transferred to another person or sold elsewhere, the woman and the man would meet and judge for a private confirmation of the approval of the documents. 2Several law enforcing institutions in America enhanced both before and during marriage provisions placing a woman at the mercy of her husband when it came to property. The Married Women’s Property Acts, in the US, expanded the rights of married women to act as independent agents in the country. When the economic life demanded a change about the space of a woman in the society, greater law flexibility was implemented and women were given a direct responsibility of the house especially in the absence of the men. Men would go out for employment or join the army. This gave the women the right over properties and land.

New opportunities for the roles of women have also contributed to women having rights over the property. The absence of their husbands in the community leaves them with different roles including those that would have been done by their husbands. This resulted in women’s organizations as they seek to reaffirm their position in society. These organizations led to a change in their livelihood, their way of life and promoted their interests. From this, they are enlightened to participate in other community-based activities to which initially they were not entitled. 3Through these organizations, the women learned their capabilities, increased their knowledge and skills, and ended up fully empowered in the community.

Women rights to property and land were due to the changes in the economic and the social life of women in the US4. During this time, industrialization was just penetrating America. Industrialization had a major impact on the economic life of the Americans. Some other parts of America remained Agricultural with the majority going into the industrialization sector. Capitalism during this time was from the industrial sector. The role of women in society had to change. Their rights which had been neglected had to be reversed since the men in the society moved to the industries. Trade-in raw materials were reenergized and raw materials had to be transported to different regions. The men of the society demanded political rights and powers due to their state in the community. They valued wealth and politics as opposed to the land and family property. They delegated and left these properties to the women as they sought a better life in the industrial and political sectors.

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Conclusion

The major trend and change during this time in the USA were that women come to realize their rights. These rights gave them the powers over land, houses, and property in the community. Initially, women were denied these rights and they had to follow all the directions from the men. Although the status of land and other property for women still varies up to now, there have been radical and major changes on these rights. These rights have been taken to the legislative rule of law where rules have been set to safeguard the rights of women in the community so that women’s rights can be observed. These reformations have to lead to changes in the attitude of the male customs and laws which were initially followed to the later. New roles have also emerged for the women who now have changed activities of the day. They have taken up the roles of men in society. They have also adopted women organizations to address their needs in society.

Bibliography

Byrnes, Andrew. Enforcement through International Law and Procedures. Human Rights of Women, Supra Note 26 (1989): 23-45.

Farha, Leilani. Women and Housing. Women and International Human Rights Law, 1 (2003): 1-5.

Lastarria-Cornhiel, Susana. Impact of Privatization on Gender and Property Rights in Africa. World Development 25 (1997): 1317-1319

Mertus, Julie. State Discriminatory Family Law and Customary Abuses. Women’s Rights Human Rights: International Feminist Perspective. 5 (1995): 135-142.

Footnotes

  1. Andrew Byrnes. Enforcement through International Law and Procedures. Human rights of Women, supra note 26 (1989): 23-45.
  2. Susana Lastarria-Cornhiel. Impact of Privatization on Gender and Property Rights in Africa. World Development 25 (1997): 1317-1319.
  3. Leilani Farha. Women and Housing. Women and international human rights law, 1 (2003): 1-5.
  4. Julie Mertus. State Discriminatory Family Law and Customary Abuses. Women’s rights human Rights: an international feminist perspective. 5 (1995): 135-142.