Globally, accessing justice and protecting rights is a daily struggle for widows, alongside bread-and-butter issues that have become more difficult in the pandemic times, including the greater need for enhanced protection against health and human rights violations? In Kenya, a 2017 report by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics fails to mention widows at all, and it was not until 2019 that data on the country’s widows was captured for the first time.
According to 2019 census report by the Kenya National Bureau of statistics, widows in Nandi County are 14, 528. These widows are facing several challenges that has been supported by negative society beliefs and failed governance structures that perpetrates injustices to them. In May 2021, an article by Nation, indicates that although the Constitution protects women’s right to “own, access and inherit land and other forms of property,” women “still struggle to realize this right”. A 2020 HRW report on women’s property rights in Kenya indicates that “positive but ambiguous laws, antiquated laws, and discriminatory social and cultural norms” make it difficult for married, divorced, separated, and widowed women to claim matrimonial property (HRW 25 June 2020b).
When the campaign was launched in March 2021, great achievements were realized within the first six months in the number of widows getting courage to share out the injustices they have been battling with. The spread of the advocacy work led by the Team in Nandi prompted even the local and county administration to address many pilled cases concerning widows especially in relation to land and property rights. some cases were referred to Nandi Women Network to offer directions on how to handle it nonviolently.
Secondly, the campaign led to Nandi Women Network entering into partnership with FIDA-Kenya to aid on offering legal aid to issues that needed legal redress. The partnership has also enhanced the capacity of the network by training three paralegals to enhance access to Justice to Widows and women in the County.
Through the advocacy campaigns, many widows are now getting empowered having realized that they have their power and right to stand against oppressive structures in the society. In the November 2021 a forum held brought in representatives from more that 50 widows groups who collectively supported the campaign and vowed to continue putting pressure to the County government to also recognize their need to be considered in empowerment programs for sustainable development.