Gender Equity

Let’s protect our women from our inheritance greed

In the conservative African society, inheritance has always been regarded as a ‘male birth right and exclusive affair’.
In Kenya, just like many other African societies, this retrogressive thinking has denied millions of women their rightful inheritance portions with the society believing that women should not inherit property from their fathers or husbands.
Apart from this outdated thinking, women across Kenya are forced to contend with long, tedious, and expensive legal processes in pursuit of inheritance.
The unending court battles are a major hindrance towards the realization of equal inheritance and property rights for women in Kenya
For 10 years, Grace Wairimu,68, has been battling a court case against her brother-in-law who threw her out of her matrimonial land one year after the death of her husband in 2011.
For Grace the court process has been draining both emotionally, financially, and physically
She has to commute from Nyamamithi village in Subukia to Nakuru Law courts once every month for court hearings
“It’s expensive paying lawyers to handle the case. I’m almost giving up” says Grace
The backlog of cases in the Kenyan courts is a contributing factor to the delays in dispensing cases of inheritance something which has seen many women opt for traditional dispute settlements which in many cases, ultimately favour men
Many women have died before tasting justice from inheritance cases they filed in courts due to the prolonged and delayed processes.
The modern Kenyan society of educated and informed citizens must rise to the occasion and help realize a society that is equitable and protective of women when it comes to inheritance.
It is saddening that in most of the inheritance cases, the men who are subject to them are learned people only controlled by the unending appetite of being greed and suppression of women
To ensure equity in the society and protect women, Kenyan men must apply the same energy they use to protect their own wives in ensuring that inheritance rights for women are protected
The Judiciary must find ways of guaranteeing a speedy settlement of inheritance cases in courts as a sure way of dispensing justice in a timely manner
Religious institutions must also play their role in sensitizing the society about the right of women to inherit property and even call out those men who conspire to deny women their rightful inheritance.
To further protect women from a conservative society, the Kenyan society and especially men must invest in the writing of wills, something that can legally protect women from abusive relatives
If these things are not done, and if the society doesn’t agree to change with times, then Kenya will still lag behind in the realization of equal property inheritance rights for women.
It will take the collective duty of the government, society, media, civil society, judiciary, and religious institutions to protect our women from the greed of our conservative African society.

About author

Jackson is a freelance journalist based in Nakuru, Kenya. His focus is on environment, climate change, women and gender, development, politics and human rights reporting. Jackson has been published both locally and internationally.
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