In Kenya’s Herder Societies, Property Rights for Women
April 21, 2017
In Kenya’s Rift Valley, Maasai women are beginning to gaining more rights that were once predominantly reserved to men. A few years ago, a single mother taking sole responsibility for her family would have been a rare sight among the pastoral Kipsigis and Maasai communities, but now it is becoming more acceptable.
ELENERAI, KENYA —
Norah Chepkulul, a single mother of two young sons, stands outside her home, a grass thatched hut surrounded by cactus-like euphoria trees on the dusty Maasai Mara road in Kenya’s Rift Valley.
She has just finished milking her four cows and has asked the boys to keep an eye on the goats corralled in the little compound.
A few years ago, a single mother taking sole responsibility for her family would have been a rare sight among the pastoral Kipsigis and Maasai communities. Traditionally, in the predominantly herder societies men are the decision-makers and managers of land and stock.
But overgrazing and the sub-division and privatization of land and its transfer to agricultural use has forced herder communities to accept and adopt new land strategies, including applying for security of tenure and women in land transfer and inheritance.
Traditions rooted deep
“Getting married these days is no longer a priority,” Chepkulul told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“I am not married and being a single mother is not easy. I stay at home with my four children as a mother — and as a father, too.”