Women From Pastoral Counties Demand Inclusion in Land Issues

By Waweru Wairimu

Workers spread sugarcane waste onto farmland in Sezela, South Africa. Photographer: Dean Hutton/Bloomberg
Workers spread sugarcane waste onto farmland in Sezela, South Africa. Photographer: Dean Hutton/Bloomberg

The main obstacle to women’s access to control and use of land in pastoralist communities is a culture that only allows men, who head the households, to control and manage the resources. Pastoral counties have thus, been asked to actively involve women on land issues.

Samburu Women Trust Executive Director Ms Jane Meriwas said county governments should undertake civic education on land issues to ensure residents are well informed about their rights.

“They (women) including the indigenous ones, should be allowed to share their views during public participation sessions and not just inviting the elites from towns,” said Ms Meriwas.

She said women had a big role to play in the protection of unregistered community land and other community resources.

The women spoke during the 2020 Annual Indigenous Women Conference in Isiolo where they asked county assemblies to ensure women participate in land forums and are involved in policy formulation and decision-making process.

Native women

The meeting brought together native women from 14 pastoral counties and stakeholders.

While lamenting that local land committees had no women representation, Ms Nuria Gollo from one of the minority tribes in Marsabit said if adequately involved, women would assist in protecting land and solving disputes.

“We also want women to be involved in land agreements so that men do not sell land without our consent and that of the children,” said Ms Gollo.

Ms Christine Namuyak, working with Samburu County government, said there were a lot of insights women could provide with regards to land issues.

“Women should be allowed to share their views, take part in land decisions and own land just like men,” said Ms Namuyak.

The county assemblies, she said, must formulate pastoralist-tailored policies to deal with perennial land disputes.

Isiolo Deputy Speaker David Lemantile said it was time the pastoral communities discard the traditions and allow women to take part in land issues.

Land tenure system

Ms Teresalba Leparsanti from the Elmosaretu community in Loyangalani said women like men have the right to be involved in land matters and men should not speak on their behalf.

The women want State agencies and counties to give them legal recognition and adequately involve them in promoting development for improved livelihoods.

They say this should be done with due respect to customs, traditions and land tenure system of the indigenous people, and ensure they are consulted by counties before any development that affects their land use is done.

The conference organized by Samburu Women Trust brought together indigenous women and their leaders from 14 counties, human rights defenders, Civil Society organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations and various partners.

Source: Daily Nation

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