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Gender and Land Rights Database

Egypt

Prevailing systems of land tenure

- Land tenure in the country takes three forms: i. ownership: holder and owner are the same person; ii. rent, cash or in-kind: the holder is not the same person as the owner and iii. mixed holding, where the holder is the owner of one part of the land holding and the tenant the other part, that it, both of them have the ownership as well as the utilization rights for one part of it but only the utilization right for its other part.
- Rental may take place according to two different modes:
i. Cash rental: The landlord and the tenant, being the two parties of a contract, agree that the second party pays the first party at a fixed time a certain amount of money as a rental for the area of land for which the contract has been issued. Cash rental is the most common mode of land rent.
ii. In-kind rent: The landlord agrees with the tenant to pay a fixed portion or a percentage of the crop after it reaches maturity (11).
- Islamic land tenure conceptions persist: the distinction between the land itself and its usufruct, the principle that ownership of land lies with God but is held in trust by the State for the community of Muslims still underpins categories of land which are utilised today (21). The “web of tenancy” is used to denote the multiple interrelated tenancy relationships in which the landholder accesses land through combinations of more than one pattern. The confluence of Islamic principles, Ottoman law, colonial interventions, custom and unofficial norms may not merely have led to a “web of tenancy” in some households, but a broader “tenure web”. There exists no clean patterns or neat categories, but multiple combinations of relations which give access to land. Islamic law provides women with substantial rights to acquire, manage and alienate property (21).
- In 1995, men comprised about 86 percent of land owners, while only 14 percent were women. The largest portion of female holders, 12 percent, falls within the category of less than one feddan. The percentage takes a downward trend as the area occupied by the holding increases. Female holders constitute six percent of the total number of holders in the category of 10 feddans, contrary to male holders whose percentage increases within each area category simultaneously with the area of the holding (11).



- According to the last 1990 Agricultural Census, nearly 96 percent of holdings are less than 2.1 hectares large; 50 percent less than 0,42 hectares. Some 96 percent of small farmers hold 56 percent of the total arable land. Agricultural land is generally privately owned, and an estimated 420 000 hectares are new lands that are owned and managed by both the public and private sectors. The government is in the process of selling additional new land areas to private farmers and investors. However, it is estimated that of the total area of old land, 58 percent is owner-occupied, while 42 percent is operated under a lease. Of the total area leased, 82 percent is in cash and 18 percent is under crop-share leases (13).
- Law 96 of 1992 revoked Agrarian Reform Law No. 178 of 1952 that had given tenants security of tenure and legalized the right to inherit tenancy agreements.
The law was fully implemented in 1997 after a five-year transition period. Contracts during the transition were intended to remain valid so rights to land could still be inherited but the rent after 1992 was increased from seven to at least 22 times the land tax.  After 1 October 1997, all landowners could take back their land and charge tenants market-based rent, which in some cases increased of 300-400 percent, depending on location and productivity.
Tenancies became annual contracts renewed at the landowners’ discretion. Landowners can dispose of their land without notifying tenants, who might have been farming the same plot for 40 years. Rents in many locations by 1997 had increased to LE 2 500 per feddan (12).

National and local institutions enforcing land regulations

- Several government entities control and manage land. These fall into two main classification categories, depending on the land they have jurisdiction upon: lands that are located within the zimam and desert lands outside zimam. Ziman refers to the limits of the perimeter that comprises urban lands within city or village cordons, as well as cultivated and uncultivated agricultural lands that have been surveyed by the Egyptian Survey Authority (ESA) and included in the register of agricultural lands and real estate — kashf al mokalafat — maintained by the Real Estate Tax Department (RETD) (29).
i. Lands within the Zimam:
- The Governorate controls public urban lands, desert lands adjacent to municipal boundaries within two kilometres of the zimam, if surrounded by agricultural lands, or the cordon, if adjacent to desert lands.
- The Ministry of Defence controls lands that have been earmarked for other purposes such as national security.
- The General Authority for Reconstruction Projects and Agricultural Reclamation (GARPAR), under the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation (MALR) controls land reclamation projects, agricultural and uncultivated lands within the arable perimeter, inside the zimam, that are not privately owned (29).
ii. Desert Lands outside the Zimam:
- MALR determines areas to be earmarked for agricultural land reclamation projects. GARPAR is considered the main governmental body for managing, developing and disposing land for agricultural and reclamation purposes whether through direct selling or leasing the land for individual beneficiaries according to its various national programs or to investors in agricultural sector (29).



- The Policy and Coordination Unit for Women in Agriculture (PCUWA), established in the MOALR in 1992, aims to increase women’s access to agricultural services and resources, improve their socio-economic status, and increase agricultural productivity and production. It works with the various departments and institutes of the Ministry to integrate issues of concern to women into the mainstream of MOALR’s programmes and policies (10).

Land administration institutions and women quotas


- Land registration involves two main entities.
The Egyptian Survey Authority (ESA):
- Is the main governmental organization responsible for the coverage of the entire territories in Egypt with topographic maps of several scales. ESA has also the responsibility of supporting the national cadastre and land registration scheme, in cooperation with the Real Estate Office in the Ministry of Justice.
The Real Estate Office in the Ministry of Justice:
- Is involved in the registration of properties under Personal or Real Folio Systems. The Personal Folio System is based on registering the documents of the property: sale contract, inheritance documents, etc. The Survey Authority reviews the application technically, while the Real Estate Registry reviews it legally.



- The Egyptian Judiciary is comprised of secular and religious courts, administrative, non-administrative courts, a Supreme Constitutional Court, and penal courts, civil and commercial courts, personal status and family courts, national security courts, labour courts, military courts, as well as other specialized courts or circuits (16).



Family courts:
- Have been instituted under the provisions of  Law No. 10/2004 to provide a one-stop shop for family disputes, facilitate settlement of personal status cases, including property and inheritance cases,   and avoid some of the delays which are endemic in the Egyptian legal system.
These specialized courts, located in New Cairo, on the outskirts of the capital, with other jurisdictions throughout the country being served by summary, juz`i, courts, also provide counselling and other services to families (18).



Extension services and agricultural training:
- Few village-level agricultural extension workers are women − only two percent in 1993 − which explains in part the extremely limited contact women farmers have with agricultural extension services (10).

Funding provisions to guarantee women’s land transactions

- A number of innovative projects have been designed to increase women’s access to agricultural resources and services.
i. The Project on Productive Activities for Women Settlers in New Lands involved women in identifying their needs and priorities and in planning, organizing and implementing women’s development centres for income-earning activities. As a result, the first women’s cooperative society, the Agricultural Cooperative Society for Food Security, was formed.
ii. A project supported by the International Labour Organization (ILO) included training in income-generating skills, awareness meetings and provision of credit.
iii. A FAO-supported project trained women in food industries, poultry and livestock raising, and provided loans for small productive projects (10).



- Under the Principal Bank for Development and Agricultural Credit (PBDAC), 88 percent of short-term production loans and 84 percent of investments loans were extended to men in 1993, while women received only 12 percent and 16 percent respectively. Loan size for men and women was about the same. Women have greater access to credit through agricultural credit societies than through the Bank (10).

Other factors influencing gender differentiated land rights

- Female access to information concerning their rights to land is significantly hampered by the high rate of illiteracy compared to men: 42 % for women compared to 25% for men (4).
- Bureaucratic delays in asserting property rights and the complexity of land registration procedures hamper women’s ability to have properties in their names properly registered. In many cases the land remains registered in the names of the people who owned it at the time of the first cadastre. Forgeries of contracts are also common (23).
- As a result of the exorbitant transaction costs for land registration, women are rarely able receive appropriate legal certification. Overall, only about 10 percent of the properties are registered (12).

Sources: numbers in brackets (*) refer to sources displayed in the Bibliography