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Develop a scalable model that educates rural, traditional communities about women’s property rights under Kenya’s 2010 Constitution and builds support for ensuring women can exercise and enforce their rights.
The pilot project was successfully implemented in a remote rural community in Kenya’s Rift Valley. The community reports a wide array of improvements they attribute to the Justice Project, including improvements in representation and functioning of local justice institutions; increased legal awareness; and improvements in household gender power dynamics. In particular, women in the community report increased access to land, increased support from tribal elders, and reduced gender-based violence; and school officials report greater numbers of girls attending school. In addition, there has been an observable increase in commercial activity in the area, reportedly led by women in the community.
To enable replication of the model in additional communities, Landesa developed a project implementation guide in 2015.
In 2010, Kenya adopted a new Constitution, which guarantees women equal legal rights and protections – including the right to own and inherit property. The Constitution also formally recognizes the important role traditional elders play in resolving local disputes over property and empowers them to continue doing so, while also requiring them to eliminate discriminatory practices.
Recognizing that legal rights to land are necessary but not alone sufficient to improving women’s access to land, Landesa and USAID launched a pilot project, Enhancing Customary Justice Systems in the Mau Forest, Kenya, better known as the Kenya Justice Project, the next year. The project aimed to ensure that Kenyan women, the majority of whom live in rural areas governed by traditional laws and customs that often disadvantage women, are aware of and can enjoy these new rights and freedoms.
The project aimed to spur positive change within rural communities by spreading awareness of the constitutional rights and responsibilities of women and men related to land and other family resources and by building the capacity of the informal justice institutions in rural areas, with the goal of transforming traditional elders into supporters of women’s rights. Because traditional elders enjoy strong social legitimacy and influence the allocation of rights to resources (including land), engaging them in strengthening women’s access to justice is key to more secure rights for women and contributes to a more fair and equitable rule of law.
The one-year pilot was implemented by Landesa’s Kenyan staff in a Maasai, Kalenjin, and Ogiek community in Narok County.
The project consists of the following components:
Following pilot activities that ended in May 2012, a quantitative and qualitative evaluation was undertaken to measure the short-term impacts of the Justice Project on women’s access to justice and land in Ol Pusimoru. The evaluation and follow up interviews reveal remarkable impact:
Landesa is working to secure additional funding to support replication and scaling of the Justice Project model across Kenya, as well as exploring the potential for this model to be applied in additional countries.