From the Inter Press Service, writer Miriam Gathigah takes a look at another aspect of gender inequality.
The situation is worse for poor women who lack the economic muscle to fight for land ownership against a backdrop of gender-insensitive customary laws that continue to sideline them. Consequently, women still hold a negligible percentage of land title deeds. In Kenya, only a paltry three percent of women have land title deeds and in Tanzania only one percent own land.
"The economy of most African countries depends on women who are deprived of the right to own land. They toil all day on land that they have negligible control over. They sustain the breadbasket regions of many countries that are dependent on agriculture but their labour is unacknowledged and poorly remunerated," says Mwanahamisi Salimu, from Oxfam, Tanzania.
According to Elizabeth Nzioki, who has conducted research on women and land in Kenya: "A key development in Kenya land tenure reform was the issuing of title deeds in the name of the "head of the family". The problem with the legislation is that the titled land is being transferred almost exclusively to male individuals."
The situation becomes very complicated when a married couple separates because in Kenya, the Marriage and Property Act is silent on how land should be divided under these circumstances. In a separation or divorce, because title deeds are in a man’s name, he is usually awarded ownership of the property.
"In Tanzania the situation is not any different, with only about one percent of women with title deeds. It means that the rest of the female population, who form the bulk of the labour force in agriculture, break their backs but have no say in proceeds from the farm," Salimu expounds.