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Working Paper

Arguing traditions : Denying Kenya's Women Access to Land Rights

ABUSE ACCESS TO JUSTICE ACCESS TO LAND AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT AGRICULTURE APPROPRIATIONS BASIS OF SEX BEATINGS BIODIVERSITY CITIZENS COMPLICATIONS CORRUPTION COURT COURTS CROPS CULTURAL PRACTICES CUSTOMARY LAW CUSTOMARY PRACTICES DECEASED HUSBANDS DESCENT DEVOLUTION OF PROPERTY DISCRIMINATION DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN DISCRIMINATION ON THE BASIS OF GENDER DIVORCE ECOLOGY ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT ECONOMIC RIGHTS EDUCATION OF WOMEN ELDERLY EMPOWERMENT EQUALITY ETHNIC GROUPS FAMILIES FAMILY LAW FAMILY MEMBERS FAMILY STRUCTURES FAMILY SUPPORT FAMILY UNITS FARMERS FEMALE FEMALE CHILDREN FEMALE CLIENTS FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS FUTURE GENERATIONS GENDER GENDER AND LAW GENDER DISCRIMINATION GENDER DISPARITY GENDER EQUITY HIV HOME HOMES HOUSING HUMAN RIGHTS HUMAN SETTLEMENTS HUSBAND HUSBANDS INCLUSION OF WOMEN INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS INEQUALITIES INEQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION INHERITANCE INHERITANCE RIGHTS INTEGRATION INTERNATIONAL COVENANT JUDGE JUDGES JUDICIAL REFORMS JUSTICE KINSHIP LACK OF KNOWLEDGE LAND GRABBING LAND OWNERSHIP LAND REFORM LAND RIGHTS LAND TENURE LANDS LAWS LEGAL EDUCATION LEGAL REFORM LEGISLATION LEVEL OF EDUCATION LOCAL AUTHORITIES MANDATES MARGINALIZATION MARITAL PROPERTIES MARITAL PROPERTY MARITAL STATUS MARRIAGES MARRIED WOMEN MOTHER NATIONAL DIALOGUE NATURAL RESOURCES NGOS NONGOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS OWNERSHIP RIGHTS PAMPHLET PARTNERSHIP PEACE PHYSICAL ABUSE POLICY MAKERS POLICY RESEARCH POLITICAL RIGHTS POLYGAMOUS MARRIAGES PRACTITIONERS PREGNANCY PROGRESS PROPERTY RIGHTS PUBLIC POLICY RESPECT RIGHTS ADVOCATES SAFETY NET SAFETY NETS SEX SOCIAL PRESSURE SOCIAL SECURITY SOCIAL STRUCTURE SOCIAL SYSTEMS STATE RESPONSIBILITY SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT SYSTEMS OF LAND TENURE TREATY WAR WIDOW WIDOWS WIFE WILL WILLS WIVES WOMAN WOMEN LAWYERS WORLD CONFERENCE WORLD CONFERENCE ON WOMEN JUSTICE FOR THE POOR
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World Bank, Washington, DC
Africa | Kenya
2018-10-09T19:25:11Z | 2018-10-09T19:25:11Z | 2010-01

Two major approaches on how to address women's land security can be identified: reforming the formal legal sector, and embracing informal community practices. However, through research conducted among Kenya's agricultural communities, the authors find that these systems formal, informal, or hybrid are underpinned (and undermined) by the same local power dynamics that control and ultimately prevent women from obtaining land, leaving all of these systems inadequate in ensuring women's access to land. Community leaders play a key role not only as local power brokers, decision makers, and protectors of local practices, but also as gatekeepers to the formal system. Thus, their decisions to support local power dynamics and limit access to the formal system essentially supporting traditions? in lieu of rights can effectively deny women access to their land rights. Based on these findings, the authors argue that the policy debate must shift away from pitting formal legislative approaches against support for 'customary' systems. With economic and political contexts influencing individuals, the debate must look at the social context within communities, whose members must be pressed to reject attempts to 'hijack' custom and legitimize abusive, self-serving behavior. This problem needs to be tackled using the same avenues that currently promote the marginalization of women, that is, the sociocultural value systems that determine which behavior, arguments, and actions are legitimate in a community. By working with existing positive values, the justice system used formal or informal becomes less important and a lasting, positive change on women's access to land rights might be achieved.

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