Land demarcation in Loita ward, Narok County breaks gender barriers

In a historic turn of events, the traditionally patriarchal Maasai community in the Loita area of Narok South is witnessing a groundbreaking transformation with the recent land sub-division, where women are finally receiving equal land parcels as men.

For years, the Maasai society has been characterised by gender disparities, with women often marginalised and denied equal rights.

However, the recent allocation of land shares to women is heralding a new era of empowerment, breaking the shackles of tradition and providing a platform for positive change.

Mama Noontomon Simel, a village elder from Kisokon area, shares her story of newfound empowerment.

She is optimistic that with the new regulations in the land demarcation, she will educate her children, something that seemed like a distant dream.

“I can now send my children to school without worrying about discrimination. The land I will own is not just a piece of earth; it’s a ticket to a better life for my kids,” says Noontomon.

This shift in land ownership has provided women like her with the agency to break free from the chains of illiteracy and ensure that the next generation is equipped with tools for success.

Mama Noormaai Punke, another beneficiary of the land sub-division, highlights the broader societal impact of this initiative.

“Women are not just homemakers; we are contributors to the community. With equal land shares, we now have a say in matters that affect us all,” asserts Noormaai.

Traditionally, decision-making in the Maasai community has been a male-dominated affair. However, with women now holding tangible assets, their voices are gaining the recognition they rightfully deserve, she adds.

The Maasai community has long grappled with issues such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriages, perpetuating a cycle of inequality and limited opportunities for women.

The two women, both of whom have not received formal education, believe that this shift in land ownership will serve as a catalyst for change.

“Education is the antidote to practices like FGM and early marriages. When women are educated, they become agents of change, challenging harmful traditions and reshaping the narrative for younger generations,” says Noontomon.

 Gladys Mokompo, a committee member of the land adjudication at Morijo section, stands as a beacon of leadership and change. As someone actively involved in decision-making processes, she embodies the shifting dynamics within the community.

“Being part of the land adjudication committee gives me the chance to contribute to shaping the future of our community. Women’s voices matter, and now we are being heard,” says Mokompo.

Her role not only signifies progress but also represents the breaking down of traditional barriers that have excluded women from leadership roles.

Both women hope that by setting an example through their own empowerment, they can inspire others in the community to prioritise education for their daughters.

The move towards equal land shares is not just a legal victory; it is a cultural revolution within the Maasai community.

By challenging ingrained gender norms, the Loita area is laying the groundwork for a more inclusive and progressive society where women can contribute meaningfully to community development.

The Loita ward has five sub sections namely Morijo, Entasekera, Ilkerin, Olmesuti and Olorte sections and is the only area in Narok County where the residents have been living on communal land.

This is the first-time women in the Maa community are benefiting from land in equal measures with their male counterparts, a decision that could reduce the violence against women cases in the county.

Speaking during the launch of Morijo Sub section land adjudication exercise, Deputy Director in the Directorate of Land adjudication and Settlement Michael Irungu said each beneficiary will get an average of 8 to 15 acres of land, depending on the adjudication section they originate from.

Irungu commended the community for allowing women to be given land in equal measures saying each family will get an average of five parcels of land.

“Each family will get an average of five parcels of land as the man, his wives and sons will all get land in equal shares,” he said, adding that those in polygamous settings will get larger portions as each wife will get an equal share of land.

The process, he said, is expected to be completed in mid- 2024 when the residents will get their title deeds.

The deputy director said the community had agreed to set aside a community forest which will be managed under the Community Land Act while the individual land will be under the Land Adjudication Act.

Narok South Deputy County Commissioner Felix Kisalu said the land register has more women than men because many families are polygamous, commending the community for breaking the gender partiality.

“We expect Gender Based Violence (GBV) to reduce after the land allocation because women will be empowered. I commend the community for including women in the land register,” he said.

The Loita land is rich in agricultural production but the residents also keep the traditional livestock in large numbers on the expansive land.

This story was first Published by Kenya News Agency (KNA) 

Photo Caption: 

Sarah Sayo, a beneficiary of land in Loita area, thanks the land committee for allocating women land

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