Gender and Land Rights Database


Women's property and use rights in personal laws

Civil Code, Regio Decreto No. 262/1942 of 1942, amended in 1975 by Law No. 151/75:
- In its original text, the Civil Code vested the direction of family affairs in the husband. Marriage property relations were governed by the separation of property regime; the wife administered her separate property, unless she delegated the husband to do so, as provided for in Article 212, and the husband exclusively administered dowry, in Articles 182 and 184.
Many provisions of the 1942 Civil Code were inconsistent with the constitutional principle of gender equality within marriage. A reform of the Civil Code was therefore adopted in 1975 and the Law No. 151/75 was passed (11).


Law No. 151/75 of 1975:
- It amended the Civil Code regarding family law. Husband and wife are thus entitled to the same rights and duties, as provided for by Article 143.

- Article 159 states that marriage establishes a communion of property, unless the spouses agree differently.

- Article 180 indicates that the spouses have equal rights in the management of family properties. Family property is administered by either spouse in the case of ordinary acts and by both spouses for extraordinary acts, such as for sale.

- In case of disagreement, distance or other impediment of one spouse, the judge can authorize the other spouse to perform the act, as provided for by Articles 181 and 182.

- Article 194 provides that each spouse receives an equal share upon division of family property.

- The norms on property administration and equality of shares cannot be derogated by matrimonial agreements, as stated in Article 210 (17).

- If the spouses opt for the separation of property regime, each spouse exclusively owns and administers his/her separate property, according to Articles 215 and 217 (11).

- Under Article 230bis, family labourers working in the family undertaking have the right to alimony [depending on the patrimonial status of the undertaking], the right to participate in profits and in decision making [according to democratic majority rules] and the right to a severance payment upon cessation of his/her activity. Furthermore, women’s work is explicitly recognized as having the same value as the work of men.
Spouses and relatives up to the third grade of direct kinship and the second grade of affinity kinship are considered family labourers. A family undertaking is defined as such when the farmer’s spouse and relatives up to the third degree of kinship work there.
In case of inheritance or transfer of the undertaking, those listed above may exercise the right to pre-emption.
Joint tenancy agreements for the management of family land are to be regulated by customs which may not collide with the provisions set forth by the law (17).

- The law de facto abolished women’s unpaid work in agriculture by introducing family farms where profit sharing, ownership and management decisions are to be shared equally by all members of the family who participate in farming. According to prevalent interpretation of the law, the same rights equally apply to regularly married and de facto families (16).


Law No. 903 of 1977, Articles 1–3; Law No. 125 of 1991, Article 4.6, as amended; Legislative Decree 151 of 2001, Article 3:
- All recognize the principle of equal remuneration with regard to equal work and work of equal value.


- Law No. 7 of 1963, Article 1 amended a previous law of 1950 and provided that dismissals of female workers who get married were null.
Subsequently, Law No. 1204 of 1971 extended and detailed the prohibition against dismissal. Now female workers cannot be dismissed beginning with the start of gestation until the end of their child’s first year of life, as stated in Article 2.

- According to Article 4, women cannot work during the period extending from two months before to three months following the birth of their child (16).

- The principle of gender equality regarding the exercise of self-employment in agricultural activities is stated in EU Directive 86/613 of 1986, implemented by Law No. 52 of 1996, Article 18 on equal opportunities.


- Under Article 48 of Law No. 203 of 1982, agrarian contracts are concluded by the family undertaking and all family members respond for the legal obligations contracted on the basis of a democratic decision-making process. This norm implicitly abrogates Article 2150 of the Civil Code, which granted the mezzadro the right to represent and contract obligations for the whole family (11).


- According to Article 14 of Law 903 of 1977, self-employed women working in the family undertaking have the right to represent the undertaking in the cooperatives or other associations of which it is member (11).

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