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Engendering Access to Justice: Grassroots women's approaches to securing land rights

The community-based study has three purposes: 1. Highlight the multitude of issues and challenges facing African women in relation to land and property. 2. Document the main strategies that grassroots women’s groups are using to help women attain justice, either by working within or influencing customary legal frameworks, or by assisting women to access the court system, in order to develop a cohesive series of strategies for grassroots women-led groups to use in achieving justice in relation to land and property. 3. Provide evidence that can be used to insert grassroots women’s perspectives and practices into the existing development discourse on women’s access to justice in relation to land and property, particularly within the African context.

It finds broadly that the most important components of successful approaches are: community sensitization and training sessions on customary and statutory legal systems; community mapping; local-to-local dialogues with headmen, chiefs, and local leaders; • the use of community paralegals for information, advice, and access to resources for grassroots women; the use of watchdogs to identify and highlight problems in a community; and, • the development of partnerships with key stakeholders. [Threats to Women’s Land Tenure Security and Effectiveness of Interventions - Annotated Bibliography]

Collection Type:
Research Articles
Country:
Multiple Countries, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda
Creator:
Brown, J. and Gallant, G.
Year:
2014

Enhancing Customary Justice Systems in the Mau Forest, Kenya: Impact Evaluation Report

Full citation: Freudenburg, M., & Santos, F. (2013). “Enhancing Customary Justice Systems in the Mau Forest, Kenya: Impact Evaluation Report.” USAID. - This paper evaluates a project which piloted an approach for improving women’s access to justice, particularly related to women’s land rights, by enhancing the customary justice system in one target area: Ol Pusimoru sub-location, Mau Forest, Kenya. The Justice Project consisted of: (1) delivery of a training curriculum to targeted groups (Chiefs, Elders, women and youth) focused on civic education, legal literacy, rights and responsibilities related to land and forest resources (with special emphasis on rights of women and children), and skill-building; (2) facilitated community conversations with target groups; (3) peer training for targeted groups to share information with others in the community; and (4) public information and education activities to reach the broader community.
The evaluation found improvements in legal awareness, particularly women’s legal knowledge, men’s knowledge of women’s rights, and women’s familiarity with the local justice system and alternative dispute resolution; women’s confidence in both fairness and outcomes if they need to access the local justice system, and procedural and process improvements in local dispute resolution institutions; respect for women’s rights by men in the community; increased access to land by women; improvements in women’s perceptions that they have access to an appropriate forum for dispute resolution; improvements in women’s land rights and tenure security, particularly in men’s expressed intentions to leave equal inheritance to all children, including girls, and women’s confidence in their ability to protect their land rights with support from local institutions; increased perceptions by women of improvements in the promptness and affordability of the local justice system and in Chiefs and Elders’ knowledge of the Constitution. [Threats to Women’s Land Tenure Security and Effectiveness of Interventions - Annotated Bibliography]

Collection Type:
Research Articles
Country:
Kenya
Creator:
Freudenburg, M., & Santos, F.
Year:
2013

On the Edge of the Law: Women's Property Rights and Dispute Resolution in Kisii, Kenya

Full citation: Henrysson, E. and Joireman, S. (2009). “On the Edge of the Law: Women's Property Rights and Dispute Resolution in Kisii, Kenya.” Law Society Review 43(1), 39-60. - This study used interviews and focus groups to explore property disputes and perceptions of formal and customary systems of dispute resolution. The initial interviews were structured and conducted with various groups and individuals.

In Kenya, government efforts at establishing clearly defined property rights and adjudication mechanisms have run up against alternative processes for the adjudication of disputes. This research demonstrates that customary processes may also carry a monetary cost that puts them beyond the means of many citizens. This article compares the costs and processes of the formal and informal methods of property rights adjudication for women in the Kisii region of Kenya. The research results suggest that women have weak property rights overall, they have limited access to formal dispute resolution systems because of costs involved, and even the informal systems of conflict resolution are beyond the means of many citizens.

Attempts to maintain use rights over their land when widowed or divorced are not taken to the land tribunals because of the expense involved. Pursuing the resolution of disputes through the customary system is also prohibitively expensive. [Threats to Women’s Land Tenure Security and Effectiveness of Interventions - Annotated Bibliography]

Collection Type:
Research Articles
Country:
Kenya
Creator:
Henrysson, E. and Joireman, S.
Year:
2009