Property ownership among the Luhya women of Western Kenya
The study aims at establishing the extent to which the women own property. The study is based, almost entirely, on a survey carried out in We st Bunyore Locat ion of Kakamega Districtic Western Province of Kenya. The central thesis of this research study is that lack of property ownership is a major constraint on women's full participation in development in their communities. The study presents some of the factors which facilitate ownership of property and those which inhibit or act as constraints to acquisition and ownership of property by women. Of special significance to the study is the position of women with regard to marriage, inheritance and bridewealth and how these affect the management of resources at the farm level. Also considered is women's access to educational facilities, and t be extent to which these constrain women's entry into formal employment and therefore ownership of property. In the face of a narrowing land base and rising women in the rural areas of Kenya have to be enabled to own property through education and acquisition of skills. The success of agricultural improvement measures in rural areas requires that women be educated. At the sam e t ime, st rue t u res sue has the fin an cia 1 ins tit uti 0ns which have discouraged or hindered women from owning property be relaxed. The study opens with a brief review of the problem statement concerning property ownership. The fact that this issue has been taken for granted and not given much recognition in relation to the position of women is of major concern. The analysis stresses that lack of property ownership by women is a socio-economic hindrance to their involvement in development. This is followed by a brief review of the literature related to the study. The literature gives determinants of property ownership, both at the international and national levels. A historical background 'is presented, indicating property ownership patterns in Africa during the precolonial and post independence periods. A review of literatur~ on women in relation to the acquisition of property indicates the constraints that influence ownership. Factors that hinder and/or facilitate ownership of property are considered. Simple random sampling and systematic random sampling techniques were employed in the selection of the respondents. The individual woman was the unit of inquiry while the households were the respondents. The major data gathering tool used was the interview schedule. The chi-square, co-efficient correlation and percentages are the major tools for data analysis. Due to limitations of time and expenses, the study focuses on property ownership among Luhya women in Kakamega District, as a factor affecting their participation in Development. The study shows that the level of formal education has a significant influence on the type of occupation and therefore a determinant of influence on control, allocation and disposal of property with the married women having more authority to ownership than the single separated widowed and divorced women. However, the bridewealth paid for a woman during her marriage did not have a significant relationship with ownership of property. The research findings indicate that the lack of property ownership lowers the economic status of not only the women but the entire family. The analysis shows that marital status and children are important determinants of property ownership. The study shows that the level of formal education has a significant influence on the type of occupation and therefore a determinant of property ownership. The findings further show that marital status has an influence on control, allocation and disposal or property with the married women having more authority to ownership than the single, separated widowed and divorced women. However, the bridewealth paid fDr a women during her marriage does not have a significant relationship with ownership of property. In conclusion, the study underlines the point that women are major contributors to the agricultural development in the rural areas. This could be witnessed in the various activities they are engaged in. The analysis further concludes that although women playa significant role in rural development, they are not guaranteed the proceeds of their labour. More often than not, they remain providers of labour and not beneficiaries.