After the president appointed a new prime minister, the bill was passed making women joint heads of the household.But this has done little to change centuries of patriarchal traditions and cultures in rural areas."Today our law makes no distinction between men and women for the acquisition of properties," explains Maitre Kone Mahoua, the vice-president of the Association of Female Lawyers in Ivory Coast."But in rural areas some beliefs and customs still have an impact," she says.
Ms Mahoua describes how "women are weak because they are the ones for whom dowry is given", and that they, too, are seen as "property of the man".It is not unusual in some African countries for the women and children to be handed over to the husband's family if he dies - the woman sometimes being "obliged" to marry another male member of the family in order to keep her children."We need to start sensitising our sisters in the rural areas so that they can have the same rights as men," she says.