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A Feminist Critique of Land, Politics and Law in Kenya


Meroka, Agnes K. 2012. "A Feminist Critique of Land, Politics and Law in Kenya." PhD diss., University of Warwick.

Author: Agnes K. Meroka


Land in Kenya has social, economic and political dimensions, which overlap and conflict. Land conflicts are one of the root causes of political crises which the country has experienced since the formation of the modern state through colonialism. Although the link between land and politics has been much studied, the gender dimension has been neglected. Where it has been addressed within the women‟s land rights discourse there has been a failure to appreciate the multi-dimensionality of land, addressing only the economic implications from a gender perspective. As a result there is little analysis of the way in which women experience inequalities arising out of political processes which shape and influence Kenya‟s land system. In 2008, the Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence (CIPEV) reported various types of inequalities which women faced with regard to land, and which arose as a result of distributional land problems in the country. It raised for the first time the way in which gender and ethnicity intersected to produce the inequalities and disadvantages women experienced during the period of election violence. This thesis addresses this intersectionality. It argues that the nature of women‟s inequality with regard to land in Kenya is much broader than questions of rights of access, control and ownership and consequently that gender inequality relating to land is Kenya is mis-framed. It analyses the nature of this mis-framing and drawing on the fieldwork conducted within three communities argues that what is needed is a contextualised understanding of intersectionality. Such an understanding of intersectionality requires analyses of the interplay between law and politics, and how this interplay produces experiences of inequality and disadvantage amongst women.

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Conflict, Resource Conflict, Economies, Ethnicity, Feminisms, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Livelihoods, Rights, Land Rights, Violence Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Kenya

Year: 2012

The Gender Dimensions of Violence and Conflict: The Case of Inter-Ethnic Land Conflict in Mt. Elgon, Kenya


Kimkung, Pamela and Cristina Espinosa. 2012. "The Gender Dimensions of Violence and Conflict: The Case of Inter-Ethnic Land Conflict in Mt. Elgon, Kenya." International Journal of Development and Conflict 2 (3): 1-16.

Authors: Pamela Kimkung, Cristina Espinosa


The violence displayed during the inter-ethnic land conflicts in Mount Elgon–which started in 2005 and escalated in the midst of the nation-wide 2007 Post Election Violence–reveals not only the limits of post-colonial states to reverse the colonial expropriation of land that destroyed indigenous land tenure systems and accentuated inter-ethnic conflicts; it reveals the gender dimensions of the conflict, where men and women were differently affected before, during, and after the conflict. While gender and sexual based violence (GSBV) was not restricted to women there were important differences that confirms the subordinated status of women and the heavier cost they had to pay. While men were also subjected to GSBV in the form of torture and/or castration it was mostly some young men who were targeted for this abuse. By contrast, women raped and sexually abused ranged from little girls to old women, since women of all age were targeted for GSBV; while men experienced GSBV only during the conflict as inflicted either by enemies or the army, women experienced GSBV before, during, and after the conflict. Not only did they experience it from the militia, the army or the camp's guards but also from their own husbands in the form of domestic sexual violence; women also carried the stigma of rape and abuse forever after the episodes. While SGBV seriously challenged the masculinity of those individual men affected, it did not challenged the patriarchal hierarchies that keep women and girls subordinated, unable to find a nurturing environment to heal their wounds after the conflict. On the contrary, after the GSBV and abuse, women faced stigma and isolation and severe health issues in a context of social disruption of family, kin, and clan structures. The different ways men and women were affected by the conflict has severe implications for the post-conflict interventions which being gender-blind, have not been gender neutral, reinforcing female subordination and trauma among the survivors of the conflict. Some reflections on how to make post-conflict interventions more gender-sensitive are also presented.

Keywords: gender and sexual based violence, gender and post-conflict interventions, inter-ethnic land conflict and gender

Topics: Armed Conflict, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Conflict, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Land Tenure, Post-Conflict, Rights, Land Rights, Sexual Violence, Rape, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Torture Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Kenya

Year: 2012

Crossing the Gender Boundaries or Challenging Masculinities? Female Combatants in the Kenya Defense Forces' (KDF) War Against Al-Shabaab Militants


Ombati, Mokua. 2015. "Crossing Gender Boundaries or Challenging Masculinities? Female Combatants in the Kenya Defence Forces’ (KDF) War against Al-Shabaab Militants." Masculinities and Social Change 4 (2): 163-85.

Author: Mokua Ombati


Few institutions have historically presented more defined gender boundaries than the military. This study examines gender and war through the lens of military combat roles. Military combat roles have traditionally relied on and manipulated ideas about masculinity and femininity. Women arrive in the army with different types of capital and bring with them a shared cultural ‘tool kit’ (womanhood). Following the military’s labour allocation process, they are assigned combat roles, which is at variance to their gendered character. Assignment in non-traditional feminine roles means crossing gender boundaries. Ethnographic studies of the Kenya Defence Forces operations in Somalia reveal the different gendered characteristics of the military roles as reflected in the women’s soldiery experiences. The encounter with military power and authority challenges the women soldiers to redefine their feminine capital, to interpret the military reality via a gendered lens and, therefore, to critically (re)examine the patriarchal order. Grounded on the twin theoretical frameworks of socio-cultural capitals and cultural scripts, and structured on a gender framing of women’s military roles, the study illustrates the complex and contradictory realities of women in the army. The study unpacks the relationship between masculinity and femininity, and, war and the military. It underpins the value of the female soldier as a figurative illustration of the complex interrelations between the gendered politics of masculinity and femininity. It considers what the acts, practices and performances constitutive of female soldiering reveal about particular modes of governance, regulation and politics that arise from the sacrifices of soldiers in combatant.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gender Roles, Gender Analysis, Femininity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Governance, Military Forces & Armed Groups Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Kenya, Somalia

Year: 2015

Food Security in Rural Sub-Saharan Africa: Exploring the Nexus between Gender, Geography and Off-Farm Employment


Dzanku, Fred Mawunyo. 2019. “Food Security in Rural Sub-Saharan Africa: Exploring the Nexus between Gender, Geography and Off-Farm Employment.” World Development 113: 26–43.

Author: Fred Mawunyo Dzanku


How to eradicate hunger and achieve food security remains a key developmental issue, particular in countries south of the Sahara. Most of the empirical literature focuses on agriculture-based interventions although it is well known that rural households have a gamut of income generating activities that constitute their livelihood. This article uses panel data for six African countries to examine the association between off-farm income and household food security and tests key hypotheses that have not been previously explored. We hypothesize that the association between food security and off-farm income is neither gender-neutral nor the same for households living in low and high agroecological potential areas. Because a nontrivial number of households do not earn off-farm income, we also hypothesize that the food security effect of nonparticipation differs by gender and geography. The results show that although off-farm income has a strong statistically significant association with food security the correlation magnitudes are not as strong. However, off-farm income has a significantly stronger association with food security among female-headed and poor region households than it has among male-headed and rich region households in most countries. The gender-related result supports the notion that households tend to benefit more from women's greater control over resources than when such resources are controlled by men. We also show that nonparticipation in off-farm income is more costly, food security wise, for female-headed households and households who live in low agroecological potential regions than it is for male-headed households and those who live in high potential regions. The rural nonfarm sector in high agroecological potential areas tends to be associated with greater poverty reduction among female-headed households than among male-headed households. From a policy and development practice perspective, the results suggest that focusing rural development policies on factors that raise farm productivity alone (e.g., input subsidies) may not lead to gender-neutral welfare outcomes. This means that interventions such as rural nonfarm microcredit schemes that targets female-headed households or women in general could help achieve gender-equitable poverty reduction, as others have shown.

Keywords: Sub- Saharan Africa, off-farm employment, gender, geography, food security, panel data

Topics: Agriculture, Development, Economies, Poverty, Gender, Households, Livelihoods, Security, Food Security Regions: Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa Countries: Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia

Year: 2019

Rethinking Transitional Gender Justice: Transformative Approaches in Post-Conflict Settings


Shackel, Rita, and Lucy Fiske, eds. 2019. Rethinking Transitional Gender Justice: Transformative Approaches in Post-Conflict Settings. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.

Authors: Rita Shackel, Lucy Fiske


This book draws together established and emerging scholars from sociology, law, history, political science and education to examine the global and local issues in the pursuit of gender justice in post-conflict settings. This examination is especially important given the disappointing progress made to date in spite of concerted efforts over the last two decades. With contributions from both academics and practitioners working at national and international levels, this work integrates theory and practice, examining both global problems and highly contextual case studies including Kenya, Somalia, Peru, Afghanistan and DRC. The contributors aim to provide a comprehensive and compelling argument for the need to fundamentally rethink global approaches to gender justice. Rita Shackel is Associate Professor of Law at The University of Sydney Law School, Australia. Her research program is broadly focused on evaluation and reform of legal and social justice processes, with a specific focus on sexual and gender based violence and the needs of victims and survivors especially women and children. Lucy Fiske is Senior Lecturer in Social and Political Sciences at the University of Technology Sydney, Australia. Her research focuses on forced migration, human rights and gender justice. (Summary from Palgrave Macmillan) 
Table of Contents:
1. Introduction: Rethinking Institutions
Lucy Fiske and Rita Shackel
Part I: Rethinking Institutions
2. The Rise (and Fall?) of Transitional Gender Justice: A Survey of the Field
Lucy Fiske
3. Ebola and Post Conflict Gender Justice: Lessons from Liberia
Pamela Scully
4. Making Clients Out of Citizens: Deconstructing Women’s Economic Empowerment and Humanitarianism in Post Conflict Interventions
Rita Shackel and Lucy Fiske
5. Using War to Shift Peacetime Norms: The Example of Forced Marriage in Sierra Leone
Kiran Grewal
6. More Than a Victim: Thinking through Foreign Correspondents’ Representations of Women in Conflict
Chrisanthi Giotis 
Part II: Rethinking Interventions
7. WPS, Gender and Foreign Military Interveners: Experience from Iraq and Afghanistan
Angeline Lewis
8. Addressing Masculinities in Peace Negotiations: An Opportunity for Gender Justice
Philipp Kastner and Elisabeth Roy-Trudel
9. Recalling Violence: Gender and Memory Work in Contemporary Post-conflict Peru
Jelke Boesten
10. ICC Prosecutions of Sexual and Gender Based Violence: Challenges and successes
Rita Shackel
Part III: Learning from the Field
11. Speaking from the Ground: Transitional Gender Justice in Nepal
Punam Yadav
12: Quechua Women: Agency in the Testimonies of the CVR - Peru Public Hearings
Sofia Macher
13. The Effects of Indigenous Patriarchal Systems on Women's Participation in Public Decision Making in Conflict Settings: The Case of Somalia
Fowsia Abdulkadir and Rahma Abdulkadir
14. ‘Women Are Not Ready to [Vote for] Their Own’: Remaking Democracy, Making Citizens after the 2007 Post-election Violence in Kenya
Christina Kenny
15. ‘An education without Any fear?’: Higher education and Gender Justice in Afghanistan
Anne Maree Payne, Nina Burridge and Nasima Rahmani
16. Transitioning with Disability: Justice for Women with Disabilities in Post-war Sri Lanka
Dinesha Samararatne and Karen Soldatic
17. Conclusion
Rita Shackel and Lucky Fiske


Topics: Conflict, Democracy / Democratization, Education, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Indigenous, International Law, International Criminal Law, Justice, Transitional Justice, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Peace Processes, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence Regions: Africa, MENA, Central Africa, East Africa, West Africa, Americas, South America, Asia, Middle East, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Kenya, Liberia, Nepal, Peru, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka

Year: 2019

Gender in Human Rights and Transitional Justice


Lahai, John Idris, and Khanyisela Moyo, ed. 2018. Gender in Human Rights and Transitional Justice. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

Authors: John Idriss Lahai, Khanyisela Moyo


This volume counters one-sided dominant discursive representations of gender in human rights and transitional justice, and women’s place in the transformations of neoliberal human rights, and contributes a more balanced examination of how transitional justice and human rights institutions, and political institutions impact the lives and experiences of women. Using a multidisciplinary approach, the contributors to this volume theorize and historicize the place of women’s rights (and gender), situating it within contemporary country-specific political, legal, socio-cultural and global contexts. Chapters examine the progress and challenges facing women (and women’s groups) in transitioning countries: from Peru to Argentina, from Kenya to Sierra Leone, and from Bosnia to Sri Lanka, in a variety of contexts, attending especially to the relationships between local and global forces. (Summary from Palgrave Macmillan)
Table of Contents:
1. Gender in Human Rights and Transitional Justice
2. Feminism during Social and Political Repression in Egypt: Making or Breaking Resistance Through Legal Activism
3. Power, Prejudice and Transitional Constitution-Making In Kenya: The Gender of Law and Religious Politics in Reproductive Choice
4. Civil Society and the Regulation of Laws Against Gender Violence in Timor-Leste
5. Addressing Violence Against Women Through Legislative Reform In States Transitioning From The Arab Spring
6. Human Rights Frameworks and Women’s Rights In Post-Transitional Justice Sierra Leone
7. Engendering Justice: The Promotion of Women in Post-Conflict and Post-Transitional Criminal Justice Institutions
8. Justice and Reparations Policies in Peru and Argentine: Towards The De-legitimization of Sexual Violence
9. Women Between War Scylla and Nationalist Charybdis: Legal Interpretations of Sexual Violence in Countries of Former Yugoslavia

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gendered Discourses, Gender-Based Violence, Governance, Post-Conflict Governance, Justice, Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict, Rights, Reproductive Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights, Sexual Violence Regions: Africa, MENA, East Africa, North Africa, West Africa, Americas, South America, Asia, Middle East, Europe, Balkans, Oceania Countries: Argentina, Egypt, Kenya, Peru, Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste, Yugoslavia (former)

Year: 2018

Women, Land, and Resource Conflicts: Policy Implications and Interventions in Kenya


Nyukuri, Elvin. 2006. "Women, Land, and Resource Conflicts: Policy Implications and Interventions in Kenya." Nairobi: Acts Press.

Author: Elvin Nyukuri


Environment and conflict research and policy interventions have focused primarily on the linkage between natural resources and acute violence but have paid less attention to the gender dimension of this correlation. Paradoxically women are more active in environmental and resource conservation activities especially land, which are widely documented. The overall objective of this study is to identify and asses the extent to which gender aspects can be of help in identifying the specific pathways involved and hence the entry points for intervention in resolving land and conflicts research and policy. (Summary from AfricaPortal)
Table of Contents:
1. Background to the Research Project
2. Grievances and Tensions over Land in Kenya
3. Gender, Land and Conflicts
4. Peace and Policy Interventions


Topics: Conflict, Resource Conflict, Environment, Gender, Women, Gender Analysis, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Peace Processes, Rights, Land Rights Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Kenya

Year: 2006

Gender and Land Rights in Murang'a District, Kenya


Mackenzie, Fiona. 1990. "Gender and Land Rights in Murang'a district, Kenya." The Journal of Peasant Studies 17 (4): 609-43.

Author: Fiona Mackenzie


Conceptualising rights to land in a framework of legal pluralism, this article explores the historical nature of struggles over land by women and men in a situation of increasing land scarcity. It is argued that the manipulation of customary law and state law is instrumental in increasing gender and, more generally, social differentiation.

Topics: Gender, Governance, Rights, Land Rights Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Kenya

Year: 1990

Land Tenure Dynamics in East Africa : Changing Practices and Rights to Land


Otto, Opira, Aida Isinika, and Herman Musahara. 2019. Land Tenure Dynamics in East Africa : Changing Practices and Rights to Land. Current African Issues 65.

Authors: Opira Otto, Aida Isinika, Herman Musahara


Agriculture remains the main source of livelihood for most rural people in East Africa. Farming is dominated by smallholders, of whom the majority are women. Their tenure and access to land is important for reducing rural poverty, enhancing food security and stimulating agricultural development. Secure tenure represents one of the most critical challenges to the development of sustainable agriculture in the region. In an effort to understand the land question and its variation across the region, this book analyses the land reforms, their context and dynamics. The book presents recent studies on the dynamics of land tenure and land tenure reforms in East Africa with a focus on Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. By selecting these five countries, the book is able to show the changing practices and variations in the land tenure dynamics and explain how they relate to historical and more contemporary issues. The chapters are written by researchers, policy makers and activists with a diverse background and experience/expertise in relation to the land question. Their contributions offer a multiperspective basis for critical rethinking and reflection on the future of the land question in East Africa. 

Keywords: land tenure, land ownership, land acquisition, farmers, women's rights, agricultural development, urbanization, East Africa


Table of Contents:

Kjell Havnevik
1. Introduction

Opira Otto
2. When customary land tenure meets land markets : Sustainability of customary land tenure in Tanzania

Aida C. Isinika, Yefred Myenzi and Elibariki Msuya
3. Securing peasants’ land rights through dispossession of the landed rich in Uganda

Fredrick Kisekka-Ntale
4. Land matters in South Sudan

Ole Frahm
5. Effects of large-scale land acquisitions by local elites on small-holder farmers’ access in Tanzania

Hosea Mpogol
6. From male to joint land ownership: The effect on women’s possibilities of using land titles as collateral in Rwanda

Jeannette Bayisenge
7. The benefits for women from land commodification – a critical reflection

Mary Ssonko Nabacwa
8. Is agriculture a generational problem?: The dynamics of youth engagement in agriculture in northern Uganda

David Ross Olanya
9. Legal pluralism and urban poverty in peri-urban Kisumu, Kenya

Leah Onyango
10. Crossroads at the Rural–Urban Interface : The Dilemma of Tenure Types and Land Use Controls in Housing provision and Urban Development in Kenyan Cities

Jack Abuya
11. Our Inheritance: Impacts of Land Distribution on Geita Communities in Tanzania

Godfrey T. Walalaze
12. Land use consolidation and water use in Rwanda: Qualitative reflections on environmental sustainability and inclusion

Theophile Niyonzima, Birasa Nyamulinda, Claude Bizimana and Herman Musahara

Topics: Agriculture, Economies, Poverty, Environment, Gender, Women, Land Tenure, Livelihoods, Rights, Land Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda

Year: 2019

Influence of Land Tenure on Gender Participation in Management of Water Projects in Njoro Sub-County, Nakuru


Wambu, Charles, N. O. Openda, and Lydia Nkatha Kinuthia. 2016. “Influence of Land Tenure on Gender Participation in Management of Water Projects in Njoro Sub-County, Nakuru.” Research on Humanities and Social Sciences 6 (20): 61- 70.

Authors: Charles Wambu, N. O. Openda, Lydia Nkatha Kinuthia


Most water projects in Kenya, account for women having fewer opportunities in decision making committees than the men counter parts. In Njoro sub-county there are different ethnic groups who utilize land and water differently as a result of difference in socio-cultural backgrounds which in-turn affect gender participation in management. Kenya as a country has made great efforts to entrench gender issues in management of water projects but have been affected by socio-cultural factors such as land tenure which derail realisation of gender equality and equity in water management. Administration of water users association projects have been decentralised by the government through enactment of water Act 2002, which advocates for gender equity and equality in participation but this, has not been fully translated into practice in water and sanitation projects. In Njoro sub-county there are several water users’ association projects in which men and women perform different function in management as a result of different socio-cultural backgrounds. Despite the role played by women and men in management of water as a resource, and the efforts that the government has made in enhancing women’s participation in management of water resources, there appears to be an existing gender gap between policy and practice. The main objective of this paper is to highlight the influence of land tenure on gender participation in the management of water projects in Njoro Sub-county.

Keywords: land tenure, gender participation, management, water projects

Topics: Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Gender Equity, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation, Land Tenure, Rights, Land Rights Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Kenya

Year: 2016


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