WOMEN PUSH KAIMENYI INTO AC­TION ON THEIR RIGHTS TO LAND

Forty-five women rep­re­sen­ta­tives de­mand joint ti­tles bear­ing the names of both spouses on mat­ri­mo­nial property, and that af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion be ap­plied to en­sure women get 60 per cent of set­tle­ment schemes

The Star (Kenya) - - Big Read / Land Ownership - BY EM­MANUEL WANJALA @imanovichrambu

As if cus­toms deny­ing them rights to land are not bad enough, women in the coun­try have to deal with laws and poli­cies that vi­o­late their en­ti­tle­ment to landown­er­ship.

This prompted 45 women rep­re­sen­ta­tives to sign a char­ter call­ing for re­forms to grant them equal rights to land.

They pre­sented the Ru­ral Women Land Rights Char­ter of De­mands to Lands CS Ja­cob Kaimenyi in Nairobi yes­ter­day.

Kaimenyi said the Lands min­istry will im­ple­ment Chap­ter 60 of the con­sti­tu­tion on land gover­nance to ad­dress women’s griev­ances on land own­er­ship.

The CS said women should use the ex­ist­ing laws in in­ci­dents where cus­toms are used by cer­tain communities to deny them equal rights.

“You must fight for your rights. No­body is go­ing to give you any­thing

kienyeji,” he said.

TEN DE­MANDS

The rights char­ter con­tains 10 key de­mands re­lat­ing to women’s land own­er­ship rights.

They range from calls for re­forms on poli­cies and legal pro­vi­sions vi­o­lat­ing women’s rights to land own­er­ship, as con­tained in the mat­ri­mo­nial Property Act 2013 and the re­cently as­sented Land Amend­ment Act 2015.

The char­ter also de­mands for joint ti­tles bear­ing the names of both spouses on mat­ri­mo­nial property, and that af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion be ap­plied to en­sure 60 per cent of di­rect ben­e­fi­cia­ries of set­tle­ment schemes are women.

The Lands mnistry is also urged to or­gan­ise aware­ness and ed­u­ca­tion pro­grammes on poli­cies and laws that con­tain spe­cific bias to­wards women on property and nat­u­ral re­source rights.

“As a mat­ter of pri­or­ity, the gov­ern­ment should sim­plify land ti­tling process. It should de­cen­tralise and make in­for­ma­tion avail­able in lo­cal lan­guages,” read the char­ter.

Other de­mands are the so­cial in­clu­sion of women liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties or HIV-Aids in land gover­nance, in­clud­ing hav­ing ti­tles in Braille for­mat for the blind.

The char­ter also de­mands the pro­tec­tion of land rights ac­tivists in­volved in ad­vanc­ing women’s rights to land own­er­ship.

“The gov­ern­ment should join our ef­forts to end il­le­gal and mili­tia-type ha­rass­ment and threats to women in pursuit of in­di­vid­ual or col­lec­tive land rights. Par­lia­ment should en­act laws to pro­tect women pur­su­ing le­git­i­mate land rights and the hu­man rights de­fend­ers sup­port­ing them in this course,” read the char­ter.

They also want the two-thirds gen­der rule ap­plied dur­ing the con­sti­tu­tion of land boards to guar­an­tee women fair­ness dur­ing con­flict res­o­lu­tion.

The women said their de­mands are an­chored on legal pro­vi­sions in the con­sti­tu­tion and leg­is­la­tions on land.

They cited Ar­ti­cle 27( 3 ) of the con­sti­tu­tion, which pro­vides for equal treat­ment of men and women on po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic, cul­tural and so­cial spheres. They also cited Ar­ti­cle 68, which re­quires Par­lia­ment to en­act laws to pro­tect women rights to mat­ri­mo­nial home upon di­vorce.

AT­TI­TUDE PROB­LEM

How­ever, Na­tional Land Com­mis­sion chair­man Muham­mad Swazuri said most of the de­mands are al­ready catered for, ei­ther in the Na­tional Land Pol­icy, the con­sti­tu­tion or other land laws.

“The main prob­lem here is im­ple­men­ta­tion,” Swazuri said. He called on women to change their ap­proach to air­ing their griev­ances by in­volv­ing men.

“Let’s con­cen­trate more on the ob­sta­cles mak­ing im­ple­men­ta­tion dif­fi­cult, and these are at­ti­tudes. In many places we have been to, when we ask women what they want, they say ‘I’m okay with what my hus­band will say’,” Swazuri said.

Ac­tionAid Kenya Ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Bijay Ku­mar, who has been help­ing women groups on land is­sues, said some 300 women at a set­tle­ment scheme in Mom­basa county are hold­ers of ti­tle deeds but they don’t ac­tu­ally own land.

“And there are a few more where the same land was given to more than one per­son. We have brought that to the no­tice of the gov­ern­ment, and we hope that some­thing will be done,” Ku­mar said.

TES­TI­MONIES

Par­tic­i­pants at the event also shared their ex­pe­ri­ences and the dif­fi­cul­ties they have un­der­gone, es­pe­cially af­ter the deaths of their hus­bands.

“Our main prob­lem is cul­tural be­liefs. We urge that our names and those

‘ YOU MUST FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS. NO­BODY IS GO­ING TO GIVE YOU ANY­THING KIENYEJI.’ — LANDS CS JA­COB KAIMENYI

/VIC­TOR IMBOTO

Scola Zighe re­ceives her ti­tle deed from Lands CS Ja­cob Kaimenyi at Buguta on July 13.

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