On December 11th, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria featured an article on strengthening women’s land rights in Kenya. The article appears in the CNN Global Public Square blog and was written by Tim Hanstad, President of Landesa, a Seattle-based NGO and partner in several USAID Land Tenure projects. The article highlights USAID’s Kenya JUSTICE project, which works with local customary justice systems to improve women’s land rights.
As Hanstad points out, Kenya’s 2010 constitution strengthened statutory land rights for women, but legal action alone is often insufficient to firmly establish new rights. Increased awareness and greater community acceptance of those statutory rights is required to make them a reality for many women. To address this issue, the Kenya JUSTICE project works with communities to raise legal awareness and train local leaders on aspects of the new constitution. The project has also been effective at elevating women to positions of authority within key customary decision-making bodies, such as groups of tribal elders. As elected elders, women are able to govern and exert cultural influence in order to enshrine their new land rights in reality, as well as in law. For more information on the Kenya JUSTICE project see here.