USAID’s Kenya Justice project – which is implemented by Landesa and works with local communities to raise legal awareness and improve women’s ability to exercise their rights – continues to gain media attention. Last week, two NGOs featured blogs on the Justice project: Landesa Helps Bring About Women’s Rights in Rural Kenya by the ONE campaign and Women’s Property Rights Success in Rural Kenya by the Borgen Project.
Both articles highlighted some of the project’s recent successes in working with customary legal systems to enhance women’s rights such as: requiring a spouse’s written consent before approving property-related transactions; providing women the ability to keep a portion of their land in cases of separation or divorce; and most notably, increasing the number of girls enrolled in secondary school. As we noted in an earlier commentary about preventing child marriage, strengthening women’s land rights empowers them economically. Enabling women to exercise greater control over the income generated from land allows them to earmark resources for education, including school fees for girls.
The One campaign’s blog noted that “gender equality has the potential to end the cycle of poverty by enabling women to contribute to community decisions and govern family resources and money wisely. We here at ONE are excited about the potential for this program to inspire others like it across the African continent and are looking forward to watching communities change and grow as women gain greater rights and freedoms.”
Dr. Gregory Myers, USAID Division Chief, Land Tenure and Property Rights argues that the next steps to make these changes for women’s property rights in Kenya concrete and actionable is to formalize these changes in law and policy.