Kenya has a long way to go to make the right to land and property a reality for all women.
Written by Najma Abdi and Juliana Nnoko-Mewanu, Daily Nation
As the world celebrates International Women’s Day tomorrow, women in Kenya still face hurdles when it comes to land and property ownership, more so widows.
Land access and ownership is an assured way for single-parent families headed by women to gain access to a better standard of living. However, widows are often disinherited and evicted from family homes and land, with serious consequences for them and their children. In rural Kenya, where residents have limited access to justice, discriminatory traditional practices operate by default.
When women take these cases to court, they must pay expensive legal fees, and poor and rural women fear they are unlikely to get justice.
The Constitution states that both partners in a marriage have equal rights before, during and at its end. The government has enacted laws to secure women’s rights to marital property, and repealed several discriminatory laws. The Marriage Act calls for registering all types of marriages, including customary. The Matrimonial Property Act protects women’s rights to property acquired during marriage, and the Land Registration Act defers to it. The Land Act provides spouses some protections from having their home or land leased or sold without their knowledge. The Law of Succession Act gives all children the same inheritance rights. But these laws have serious gaps and are poorly enforced.