Girls Not Brides, a global partnership of more than 200 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) committed to ending child marriage, recently featured an article on how women’s land rights can help reduce child marriage. The article describes how USAID’s Kenya Justice project has helped improve girls’ access to education by working with customary justice systems to strengthen women’s land rights in target communities.
Though Kenya’s 2010 constitution expanded women’s rights to own and inherit land, legal reform alone is often insufficient to improve women’s access to land rights in many communities. The Kenya Justice project, which is implemented by USAID’s Seattle-based partner Landesa, works with local communities to raise legal awareness and improve women’s ability to exercise their rights.
By engaging in a dialogue with local traditional authorities to increase understanding of the contributions women make to their community, the Justice project has helped to elevate the status of women. Last year, for the first time, women were elected as tribal elders. In addition to enhancing women’s ability to govern and exercise their rights, strengthening women’s land rights also empowers them economically. According to the article “when women gain joint control over their family’s land, they gain a powerful resource they can use to not only feed their children, but also generate income. And with equal control over those funds, women are earmarking family resources to pay school fees for all their children – girls included.”