Land summit pushes for women's rights to land ownership

Women in a song and dance during the official opening of the Community Land Summit at Maralal Technical and Vocational College in Samburu County. [Edwin Mbugua, Standard]

Women in pastoralist communities may soon enjoy their rights to own land and property if the planned Indigenous Community Land Summit approves the recommendations. 

The third Community Land Summit, which is underway in Maralal town in Samburu County, seeks to shine a spotlight on women and youth in land ownership. 

The summit brings together stakeholders from diverse backgrounds to champion the involvement of women and youth in land ownership. 

This year's theme is “Gender Equality and Participation of Women and Youths in land Ownership, Natural Resources Management in the Enhancement of Sustainable Local Economies."

The summit also seeks to address the challenges women face in land ownership and management of property and resources. 

Speaking during the opening ceremony on Wednesday, IMPACT Kenya CEO Mali Ole Kaunga said the summit serves as a powerful platform to address the long-standing gender disparities in land ownership that have marginalized women and youth for far too long. 

The summit aims to challenge societal norms, shed light on existing barriers, and pave the way for transformative change. Participants will engage in thought-provoking discussions centred around empowering women and youth to claim their rightful place in land ownership,” he said. 

The vice chairperson at the National Land Commission Gertrude Nguku said there is a need for effective coordination among different actors, enough funding, and sensitization. 

“Sensitisation programmes will help to educate communities and decision-makers about the need for equal access to land and implications of gender and age disparities in land ownership while coordination of different actors is essential to avoid duplication of efforts and maximise the impact of the intervention,” she said. 

However, the stakeholders say low budgetary allocations remain the biggest barrier to addressing the challenges. Gertrude calls for sufficient allocation of resources and funds towards addressing the challenges. 

Women from pastoralist communities continue to blame the government and cultural practices as the call for a collective approach from East African Union countries for the challenges are shared across borders. 

Namayan Mathayo also from Tanzania said there is a need for the countries under the East African Community to come up with legal frameworks, monitoring and enforcement of policies. 

“Women from these communities regardless of their countries face the same challenges thus if the governments and other stakeholders agree on the same approach it will be much better," said Mathayo.