Women legally own less than 7pc of land in Kenya


A piece of land. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Less than seven per cent of Kenyan women are registered land owners compared with about 30 per cent of men, the UN says.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) says the proportion of Kenyan women who are sole landowners is the lowest in the East African Community based on 2014 analysis.

About 28 per cent of Kenyan women jointly own land with men through processes such as marriage. “Despite the introduction of laws on gender equality into property and inheritance laws, a significant gender gap continues to exist in access to land,” UNCTAD says.

Article 40 of the Kenyan Constitution, that took effect in August 2010, gives women equal rights to land ownership as men. Women also automatically become joint landowners with their spouses upon marriage under Article 45(3).

Many women do not know that the constitution promises to eliminate gender discrimination in law, customs and practices related to property, leaving thousands at risk of homelessness.

Land ownership in Kenya is usually vested in fathers who customarily pass it on to their sons, making it hard for women to secure rights except through their husbands.

The World Bank estimates that women run more than three-quarters of Kenya’s farms. But culture often takes precedence over the law, with men owning and controlling most of the land.

UNCTAD secretary-general Mukhisa Kituyi emphasised the need to make trade policy more gender-sensitive and pave the way for more inclusive prosperity.