Law as Performance: Women’s Property Rights in Kosovo

26 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2013

Date Written: 2013


Since 2008, Kosovo has been eager to modernize its laws to establish an independent juridical identity and to prepare for future membership in the European Union. The potential for future EU membership has been a political incentive to adopt egalitarian property laws. Property rights issues in Kosovo are politically salient and highly charged: the restoration of property to the Serbian minority population; the allocation of formerly socially owned properties; legalizing the many illegally constructed building in Pristina; and the privatization of large government properties with contested ownership between Serbia and Kosovo. These are legally complex issues in which the solutions are not always obvious. Women’s property rights in Kosovo are a minor concern in comparison. They are not as legally complex, nor is it unclear how to go about enforcing them. Women’s property rights are the low hanging fruit of property issues in Kosovo. Yet, there is little compliance with the law regarding women’s property rights and thus significant barriers to women’s engagement in the economy. In Kosovo laws exist protecting women’s property rights. Yet, despite legal protection women own less than 8% of all property and only 6.5% of businesses. Merely having equitable law is insufficient for women to substantively engage in the economy. This paper examines Kosovo’s creation and enforcement of women’s property rights in the shadow of an anticipated EU accession process. When we turn our focus from the creation of law to its enforcement our attention shifts from international and national political arenas to the locality and to the exercise of authority within communities and through the judiciary. If Kosovo is unable to enforce women’s property rights, this bodes ill for its ability to address other significant and unresolved property issues.

Keywords: Kosovo, property rights, post-conflict, women, European integration

JEL Classification: K11, H77, P33, B15, H50

Suggested Citation

Joireman, Sandra F., Law as Performance: Women’s Property Rights in Kosovo (2013). APSA 2013 Annual Meeting Paper, American Political Science Association 2013 Annual Meeting, Available at SSRN:

Sandra F. Joireman (Contact Author)

University of Richmond ( email )

28 Westhampton Way
Dept of Political Science
Richmond, VA 23173
United States
(804) 289-8529 (Phone)

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