Empowering Women Through Land Rights: Connecting Economic Empowerment, Control Over Assets, and Sexual Negotiation Within Kisumu County, Kenya


Shaffer, Madison. 2019. “Empowering Women Through Land Rights: Connecting Economic Empowerment, Control Over Assets, and Sexual Negotiation Within Kisumu County, Kenya.” Paper presented at APHA's 2019 Annual Meeting and Expo, Burlington, VT, November 2-6.

Author: Madison Shaffer


This project aims to gain a greater understanding of the current state of women’s land rights in Kisumu County, Kenya. It will discuss how current interventions are impacting women’s empowerment and their ability to negotiate safe sex. Property rights can provide women with a secure place to live, a place of economic activity and reduces dependence on men. Property ownership can also serve to empower women and “give them greater bargaining power at the household, individual, and community level...increasing agency” (Dworkin,2009). Unfortunately, men have almost always been favored in land rights in traditional land allocation and in customary law. In 2010, Kenya’s new constitution, article 60, eliminates gender discrimination in law, customs, and practices related to land. Since this, little research has evaluated the relationship between land rights and female empowerment in a Kenyan context. Through the Kenya Demographic Health survey data I was able to formulate semi-constructed interviews, and a questionnaire to analyze the impact land rights has on women’s empowerment. Empowerment was measured on a 0-1 scale based off a set of indicators drawn from the World Bank (Malhotra et al., 2002). Regardless of the clear legal standards now in place, gender-biased public attitude and limited utilization of legal services still lead to women systematically being denied their rights to land. This project utilizes Fundamental Cause Theory to describe how interventions that involve the community through legal training and education on human rights can help support women’s land claims and lead to empowering women in their own sexual, and nonsexual, health going forward.

Topics: Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Health, Reproductive Health, Rights, Reproductive Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Kenya

Year: 2019

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