Thursday, March 22, 2018

Give women rights

Women account for nearly half of the world’s smallholder farmers and produce 70% of Africa’s food. Yet, less than 20% of land in the world is owned by women and over 65% of land in Kenya is governed by customary laws that discriminate against women, limiting their land and property rights.

This means that women farmers have to access land through either their husbands or sons. Sometimes these male family members move to the cities leaving women behind to tend the land – land they have no right to own, use as collateral or sell the output without consent from the men.

Research shows that if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they would increase the yields of farms by 20%-30% and reduce hunger by up to 17%. In addition, women plough back profits to their households, therefore alleviating poverty from the bottom up.

Given that they have vast indigenous knowledge of local plant species, this helps them provide a wide variety of nutritious food for their family, therefore curbing malnutrition at a household level. This means that by limiting women’s rights to land and other assets, we are denying ourselves the opportunity to increase food production, reduce hunger and limit malnutrition. Most societies remain predominantly patriarchal and women are consistently marginalised due to societal norms. To create change, we need bottom-up solutions that bring both women and men together to come up with solutions. Legislation alone is not enough to change society’s views on women’s property rights.

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