1,000 women climb sand dunes to de­mand jus­tice in land rights

Tra­di­tion­ally, women in Kil­ifi county do not have rights to own land and only their hus­bands’ and fa­thers’ names ap­pear on ti­tle deeds. The want to own land

The Star (Kenya) - - Counties - ALPHONCE GARI @alphonce2011

More than 1,000 women from Ma­garini sub­county climbed high sand dunes on Thursday to protest against land in­jus­tices and de­mand their right to own land.

The women were young and old, some phys­i­cally chal­lenged. They were sup­ported by some men in their de­mand for ti­tle deeds in their own names.

They marched from Mam­bu­rui along the beach for two kilo­me­tres, be­fore climb­ing the sand dunes.

The dunes are high and it is dif­fi­cult to reach the top due to shift­ing sand, high hu­mid­ity and hot sun. They are known as ‘mini Mt Kil­i­man­jaro’.

Tra­di­tion­ally women in Ma­garini and Kil­ifi county at large do not have the right to own land.

Wear­ing scarves la­belled ‘hash­tag stand up for women to Kil­i­man­jaro’, ‘Ac­tion Aid Kenya’ and ‘Malindi Rights Fo­rum’, the women be­gan their twohour jour­ney to the dunes un­der the hot sun while singing songs.

They car­ried plac­ards bear­ing the words ‘I stand up for women’s rights to land’.

Since they did not carry wa­ter, the women dug a well in the sand dunes, less than a me­ter deep, to quench their thirst.

Slowly they be­gan climb­ing mini Mt Kil­i­man­jaro, which took them al­most four hours. Some al­most gave up.

They likened the tough climb to the chal­lenges women face in the county.

Their leader Trufena Manga, the chair­per­son of Malindi Rights Fo­rum, said the tough climb will show the world how women in Kil­ifi county suf­fer — and still are de­nied the right to own land.

“We want the con­sti­tu­tion to be im­ple­mented. It says ev­ery­body has the right to own land,” she said.

Chadi Charo, an el­derly woman, said women cus­tom­ar­ily were not sup­posed to own land; only their hus­bands’ names are on land doc­u­ments.

“My fa­ther sold me off at the age of 16 to get money and drink tra­di­tional palm wine (mnazi). I have no right to own land and I have suf­fered all my life,” she said.

“I have six chil­dren and they are all in school. Enough is enough, it’s time women get rights as stip­u­lated in the con­sti­tu­tion.”

Mar­garet Nduku of Ma­garini said she has been un­able to get a ti­tle deed af­ter her hus­band’s death be­cause the record only shows his name.

“The process re­quired to change own­er­ship is long and ex­pen­sive and I can­not af­ford it,” she said.

The demon­stra­tion was also a prepa­ra­tion for East African Mt Kil­i­man­jaro climb­ing in Arusha on October 13.

/ALPHONCE GARI

Women from Ma­garini climb sand dunes in Kil­ifi county on Thursday to protest against in­jus­tice and de­mand their right to own land

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