• Experts opine that women’s access to land is crucial for achieving the interconnected global goals of gender equality and land degradation neutrality by 2030
• UNCCD women are major actors in global efforts to reduce and reverse land degradation
Kenya will on Saturday join the global community in commemorating the 2023 Desertification and Drought Day with a sharp focus being directed to women’s rights to land.
Environment CS Soipan Tuya will lead the commemoration under the theme ‘Her land. Her rights at Waita, Mwingi County.
Senior officials from the Kenya Forest Service led by the Regional Forest Conservator for Eastern Monica Ndirangu will also attend the event.
At the global level, the day was marked at UN headquarters in New York.
Experts opine that women’s access to land is crucial for achieving the interconnected global goals of gender equality and land degradation neutrality by 2030 and contributing to the advancement of several other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw said women are major actors in the global efforts to reduce and reverse land degradation.
“However, in the vast majority of countries, women have unequal and limited access to and control over land. We cannot achieve land degradation neutrality without gender equality, and we cannot exclude half the population from land management decisions because of their gender," he said.
UNCCD says women hold a vital stake in the health of the land, yet they often don't have control over it.
It says women face significant barriers in securing land rights, limiting their ability to thrive and prosper in all parts of the world.
And when land becomes degraded and water is scarce, women are often the most affected.
UNCCD says investing in women’s equal access to land and associated assets is a direct investment in their future and the future of humanity.
It says it's time for women and girls to be at the forefront of global land restoration and drought resilience efforts.
UNCCD says nearly half of the global agricultural workforce today is female – yet less than one in five landholders worldwide are women.
“Women’s rights to inherit their husband’s property continue to be denied in over 100 countries under customary, religious, or traditional laws and practices,” it says.
UNCCD urges governments to promote laws, policies, and practices that end discrimination and secure women’s rights to land and resources.
The Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya echoes UNCCD’s sentiments.
The federation says the country has made positive steps in developing a constitution that reflects international standards of gender equality and enacting laws to give effect to the constitutional provisions.
Article 40 of the Constitution guarantees the right to property ownership, while Article 60 ensures equitable access to land and security of land rights.
However, the deeply entrenched prevailing patriarchal attitudes still make it difficult to attain the equality envisioned by the Constitution of Kenya 2010.
FIDA, in its training handbook, says even though the estimated ratio of women to men is 1:1, only five per cent of land title deeds in Kenya are held by women, jointly with men.
It says one per cent of land titles in Kenya are held by women alone and 89 per cent of the subsistence farming labour force is provided by women.
The women federation says 70 per cent of labour in cash crop labour production is provided by women, and about 32 per cent of households are headed by women.
“A complex mix of cultural, legal, and social factors and obstacles stand in the way of women realizing equal property rights in Kenya. The few statutes that could advance women’s property in the past deferred to religious and customary property laws that privilege men over women.”