“Indigenous women must be involved in decision making processes relating to governing land and lands resources,” this was the message anchored by indigenous women who converged in
Nakuru for a two-day conference (June 13-14,2019) to deliberate on how they can access, own,utilize and control land and land resources.
The more than 35 indigenous women from Yaaku, Elmolo, Ogiek, Ilchamus, Samburu, Maasai, Turkana,Endorois and Sengwer were concerned of exclusion of their voice in key discussions on management of land and the resources therein. These communities practice different socio-cultural and economic activities ranging from pastoralism, fishing and hunting and gathering.
Although, various laws exist sanctioning their right to own land and land resources, their communities are yet to outdo retrogressive cultures, traditions and customs that continue to subjugate women.
Dr. Ruth Aura, an expert in property and land related matters informed the women that they can institute a judicial process to challenge any custom that undermines their full rights to land and land
She urged the women to unite in advocating for their non-discrimination in access, ownership, use and control of land and land resources.
“We(women) have a common problem(land-related) and therefore we have to lobby for women land rights regardless of class, education or tribe,” she urged the women.
She referred to the regional and international instruments women can invoke in defending their land rights such as the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Convention on
Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
“Let us understand our rights and inform fellow women. All of us are entitled to own land,” noted Dr Aura.
Even the married women are entitled to inherit their parents’ property as existing laws have granted them the specified rights, she noted.
Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) Commissioner Shatikha Chivusia observed that when women achieve economic independence, they become their own soldiers in fighting for their land rights.
Nevertheless, she encouraged them to offer each other psychosocial support whenever it is necessary as often they become vulnerable to attacks and arrests when they challenge the status quo.
The participants were happy to have been part of the conference and promised to share the information with the fellow women at the grassroots.
Ms Elizabeth Ibrahim said “The presentations were very relevant and is it the kind of information indigenous women needs to have in order to mobilize themselves to fight for their rights.”
The conference was held courtesy of the financial support from FIMI-AYNI under the ‘Leading from the South’ grant.