Women in western and Nyanza regions are the most discriminated in terms of land ownership if data compiled by the Kenya Land Alliance is anything to go by.
A survey by the alliance ranks Kisumu and Siaya poorly, with less than three percent of women in the counties owning land.
According to the 2018 Kenya Land Alliance survey done in 43 land registration centres, counties with the least number of women with land title deeds issued by government between 2013 and 2017 include Kisumu at 2.32 percent, Siaya (2.92 percent), Homa Bay (4 percent), Vihiga (4.53 percent) and Busia (4.25 percent).
The survey, which analysed data from land registries, indicates that women in the two regions are still facing open discrimination in land ownership due to cultural barriers.
Counties with the highest number of women possessing the land documents include Embu (61.48 percent), Lamu (55.73 percent), Laikipia (54.67 percent), Nakuru (41.35 percent) and Murang’a at 38.31 percent.
Over the years, a woman’s right to own, inherit, manage and dispose property or land in Kenya has been under attack from customary practices that grant women only subordinate rights through their male relatives.
In view of this, a women’s rights organisation is calling on the government to examine why women in Nyanza and western Kenya possess the least number of title deeds as compared to other parts of the country.
Grassroots Organisations Operating Together in Sisterhood (Groots) expressed concern over the glaring inequalities where data shows women in some counties have almost zero land ownership.
Groots Kenya Executive Director Fridah Githuku said despite the country having a progressive constitution and a robust legal framework on land ownership, the distribution of land has not reflected the progress made in gender equality and social justice.
“There are huge disparities in the country when it comes to land ownership especially among women in different regions and the government must investigate and inform future policy formulation on how the trend can be reversed,” said Ms Githuku.
She was speaking in Kitui during a sensitisation workshop on access to affordable financial credit for rural women farmers.
MS Githuku said other counties with the lowest number of women owning title deeds include Nandi, West Pokot and Baringo.
The overall allocation of settlement schemes by gender shows that 75 percent of men own title deeds while women trailed with only 21 percent.
Learning institutions, churches and government offices constitute the remaining three percent of title deeds.
Ms Githuku said the prevailing land ownership scenario has had a negative consequence of limiting economic progress of women because they cannot access credit facilities from banks.
“We are compiling a countrywide database that will expose the injustices that women have faced while trying to get registration of their land,” she noted.
Land ownership has been a sensitive issue in Kenya since pre-independence times, with most communities only allowing men to own land.
President Uhuru Kenyatta issued over three million title deeds during his first term in office between 2013 and 2017, exceeding the record set by previous regimes.