Opportunities and challenges for women in the new statutory land tenure systems in Kisumu county, western Kenya
This study set out to identify opportunities and challenges for women in the new statutory land tenure systems. The study was conducted among rural women farmers in Katieno West Sublocation, Kisumu County. The main objective of the study was to explore the opportunities for women‟s access, use, control and ownership of land in the new dispensation and find out why rural women are not exploiting these opportunities. Specifically, the study set out to: Identify the opportunities for women in the new legislations; and determine the challenges facing the women in exploiting these opportunities. Data was collected using semi-structured questionnaires, focused group discussions and key informant interviews. Data from the semi-structured questionnaires were analyzed using SPSS version 17.0 and the findings presented in tables of frequencies and percentages, and graphs, while data from the focused group discussions and key informant interviews were analyzed according to emerging themes. The SWOT analysis was the framework used to conceptualize the study. The study findings indicate that there are various opportunities for women in the new statutory land tenure systems including ownership and inheritance. The findings also suggest that the study subjects are aware of these opportunities but the opportunities are not being actualized on the ground due to a variety of challenges, including: predominant use of cultural land tenure systems in the rural areas; customs and traditional practices that are dominantly patriarchal and largely discriminate against women; the lack of both an enabling environment and adequate structures that facilitate the enforcement of these opportunities; and the existence of two parallel tenure systems regulating land, statutory and customary. The constitution tries to address some of these challenges by bridging the gap between the statutory and customary land tenure systems. However, the process of dismantling these inappropriate structures will take time. Devolution as well as intensive civic education and awareness creation among rural communities is bond to address patriarchy which will in turn create an enabling environment for women to demand their rights. The study, therefore, recommends that activities including workshops and conferences be organized to educate rural women and make them aware of the available avenues that they can use to actualize their rights; encourage cultural leaders and elders to support women land rights; and carry out further research on ways in which statutory and customary land tenure systems can exist and work together for the benefit of the communities, more than just in the implementation of the constitution.