Less than 7 percent of women in Kenya own land despite running more than three-quarters of Kenya’s farms

Land ownership in Kenya is usually passed from the fathers to sons, making it hard for women to secure rights except through their husbands.

  • Less than seven per cent of Kenyan women are registered land owners compared with about 30 percent of men.
  • Like most African societies, land ownership in Kenya is usually passed from the fathers to sons, making it hard for women to secure rights except through their husbands.
  • This statistics based on 2014 analysis is the lowest in the East African Community.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) says the proportion of Kenyan women who are sole landowners is very low compared to about 30 percent of men who own land

“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.

This statistics based on 2014 analysis is the lowest in the East African Community.

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

About 28 per cent of Kenyan women jointly own land with men through processes such as marriage but many are not conversant with property rights leaving them at the mercy of their husbands and in-laws. They risk being rendered homeless anytime.

Article 40 of the 2010 Kenyan Constitution, gives women equal rights to land ownership as men.

Women also automatically become joint landowners with their spouses upon marriage under Article 45(3).

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.

Like most African societies, land ownership in Kenya is usually passed from the fathers to sons, making it hard for women to secure rights except through their husbands.

In a further blow to women property rights, the high court on Monday ruled couples will not have to share their wealth equally upon divorce.

In a landmark ruling, Justice John Mativo rejected the Federation of Women Lawyers’ (FIDA) application for the repeal of section 45 (3) of the Act, that states couples should get what they contributed to family wealth.

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