We call for equal protection and benefit of women’s rights in Kenya according to the Constitution of Kenya.
The Constitution of Kenya in Article 61 categories the land in Kenya into three; public, private, and community. Public land refers to land owned by the government. Consequently, the state has the state right to;
- Regulate the use of land in the interest of defense, public safety, public order, public morality, public health, or land use planning.
- Acquire other property for a public purpose or in the public interest provided the acquisition is carried out in accordance with the Constitution, which requires prompt and just compensation for owners as well as good-faith occupants.
Women Land rights in Kenya
The Constitution of Kenya 2010 guarantees equal rights for women in relation to land rights. Women can now inherit property and own land. Women, whether married or unmarried, have equal rights as men to own land. One of the major principles of the land policy in Kenya according to Article 60(1f) is to eliminate gender discrimination in law, customs and practices related to land and property.
The main challenge is that many people in the rural areas are unaware of these provisions of the 2010 Constitution. Many communities live under the old system which puts women and girls at a disadvantage, mostly concerning property rights. Owning land gives women access to capital and the freedom to leave abusive marriages.
Women through ancient history have been responsible for first the domestication of seeds and then ensuring its preservation by passing it from generation to generation until contemporary times. Most women especially those in the rural areas have experienced lack of sufficient food for their family, lack of enough resources to meet the costs for education and have insecure land tenure and access to productive resources. The voices of women are not decisively and meaningfully carried forward to policymakers nor do policy makers seek them out. Despite women being the backbone of agricultural production, their labor and contributions is overlooked and undervalued. The patriarchal structure within most communities is the main cause of the overlook of the contribution of women.
Not having ownership creates a lot of problems and these include;
- Not being able to join farming cooperatives that would help them interact with other people who could help them improve production or sales.
- Not being able to get loans from the bank to buy new equipment or hire help because they do not own title deeds
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), in the developing countries like Kenya, most women’s work is devoted to agriculture. Women are usually involved in every stage of food production, for example, in sowing, weeding, fertilizing and harvesting the staple crops.
Land grabs are also another problem affecting women land rights. Land grabs often affect communities’ access to water, which again, at a household level, is women’s responsibility to secure. Consequently, women have to spend more time and walk for longer distances to fetch water. Land grabs are also a potential source of conflict and women are invariably disproportionately affected by conflict.
Kenyan women, particularly those in rural areas, have the burden of feeding their families and are key to ensuring food security and poverty reduction. These women’s increased burdens aggravate gender inequalities in Kenya.
Some of the solutions which we are committed to in offering to the Kenyan women especially those in the rural areas include;
- Advocating for involvement of women in policy making in matters concerning land- this is because food sovereignty and agro-ecology farming cannot be achieved without recognizing the central importance of women to food production and ensuring that they are equally represented in the development of policies and in the implementation of the programs. Women should be equally represented as participants and beneficiaries of these policies and programs.
- We support people’s agro-ecology. This is because in industrial agriculture relies heavily on inputs of fertilizers and pesticides which destroy the environment and also affect the local communities. Instead of using these pesticides, we encourage the use of environmentally and socially friendly methods to improve food production.
- We are committed in ending land grabbing and are ready to take any measures to ensure that land grabbing comes to an end.
- We also engage in educating women in the rural areas and making them aware of their rights according to the constitution of Kenya 2010.
- We also collaborate with women organizations in the rural areas and give them any form of support they may need in order to increase their agricultural productivity.