When one woman learnt she was entitled to a share of her father’s property, she fought for it, changing her life forever
7 OCTOBER 2013 | KABUL AND JALALABAD, AFGHANISTAN
Toorpekai’s thriving new business and boundless self-confidence illustrate the change that can come about when Afghan women learn that they have legal rights. Four decades after she lost her father, Toorpekai received her share of his property, changing her life forever.
It all started when she attended a workshop funded by USAID’s Land Reform in Afghanistan (LARA) project. For Toorpekai it was a revelation that she had the right to claim a share of her father’s estate. Her brothers had always said she didn’t. “After the second workshop, I built up the courage to claim my inheritance,” she says.
It was to be a four-month struggle. With support from Jalalabad’s Department of Women’s Affairs, the Provincial Council and the LARA project, Toorpekai began the fight for her rights. Her brothers claimed that she was not entitled to the family property because they had provided room and board to the destitute young widow and her three children. But Toorpekai insisted she had worked without any payment for her keep. The Women’s Affairs Department pressed her case. Mahtab Malikzai, who works for the Department, recalls that it took many phone calls and much persuasion to ensure Toorpekai received her share of the property.
It was a small plot of land far from her house, so she sold it and used some of the proceeds of the sale to start a taxi business. It proved to be a good decision, generating a steady income. For the first time in her life, Toorpekai is free of debt and has enough to live comfortably.
Toorpekai is one of more than 600 women who have learnt about their inheritance rights at workshops organized by USAID in Jalalabad and Kabul.
Last updated: January 20, 2015