Gendered Limitations on Women Property Owners: Three Women of Early Modern Cairo

Shauna Huffaker, University of Windsor


Women’s rights to be independent property owners in the pre-modern Islamic world can be overemphasized. This article explores the legal frameworks and social and familial customs that limited women’s ability to act as autonomous property owners in late Mamluk and early Ottoman Egypt. Three case studies of early modern women of different socio-economic status demonstrate how these limitations come into focus only when women’s ownership of property is tracked over the long term. These case studies and supporting material are drawn from sales and waqf endowment documents held at the Egyptian National Archives and the Archives of the Ministry of Religious Endowments.