Article 17: Right to Property.

  • Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
  • No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

The right to own property and to not be arbitrarily deprived of it is yet another right to be included in this declaration mainly based on the atrocities seen in World War II. The Nazis stripped Jews and other minorities of their belongings. They stole huge amounts of money, houses, art, jewelry, other personal belongings, and even businesses to become richer, superior and to suppress the spirit and culture of especially the Jewish people, but also other minorities.

The importance of the implementation of this right can also be seen in how indigenous tribes all over the world from Australia to America have been forced out of their sacred lands throughout history.   

Today this article is most relevant in regards to land and housing. Many people own valuable land that the states of nations or private businesses might be interested in. Maybe because the land is very fertile, is in the way of a project, is logistically or geographically important, etc. Here this right protects the owners from having their property taken arbitrarily.  They can agree to sell, but cannot be forced to leave their home.

However in many countries, this right is violated, and local laws make it very hard for women to obtain and own land. In South America only 20% of landowners are women, in the Middle East, it is as low as 5% of women landowners.

This is in spite of research suggesting that women who own land can increase their income by 380%, which makes them more likely to venture out to loan money to start businesses. This in turn makes them even more economically stable. Economic stability in women has shown to decrease cases of HIV/Aids, domestic violence, and poverty, which then will benefit any children she might have. 

Simply put, it is a huge missed opportunity of economic and societal growth to exclude women from the property-market in any country. 

Written by Nanna Orloff Mortensen and Natalia Colmenar

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