In 2016, the Wellspring Philanthropic Fund initiated a multiintervention project, Women’s Land Rights Social Norms, to improve women’s land tenure in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. The project aimed to change the behaviors of men, women, and land management organizations to enable women to realize their rights. Part of this intervention included the Securing Your Family’s Future (SYFF) Course for Men, a curriculum-based interactive course aimed at changing behaviors and mediating social norms related to women’s land and property rights (WLPR), such as women’s access to, use, ownership and control, and decision-making about land. The SYFF Course for Men was developed and contextualized to Kenya by Lori Lorrelli Consulting in partnership with the Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network on HIV & AIDS (KELIN).
Prior to implementing SYFF, a baseline survey was conducted in August 2018 to assess current knowledge, attitudes, selfefficacy, future intentions, and perceptions of peer norms related to WLPR among potential SYFF course participants in Kenya. Some of the baseline findings include:
Some men felt that land ownership clauses in the new constitution favor girls and women and may lead to challenges in households and communities if not implemented cautiously.
Most of the men felt that family land should only be bequeathed to sons and not daughters.
Most of the few men who reported having inheritance plans or wills had them verbally with no documentation, risking future family disputes, especially for the few men who had expressed willingness to give a share of their land to daughters.
The SYFF course was conducted in Kenya in 2019, with 192 men across Homabay and Kisumu counties graduating. An endline evaluation of the pilot course was conducted in July 2021 to assess SYFF course participants’ knowledge, attitudes, self-efficacy, future intentions, and perceptions of peer norms related to WLPR, what worked, and challenges or challenges or challenges gaps in the implementation of the curriculum.
The International Center for Research on Women’s (ICRW) Institutional Review Board, Maseno University Ethics Review Committee (MUERC), and The National Commission for Science, Technology, and Innovation (NACOSTI) in Kenya reviewed and approved the endline study protocol. The endline evaluation used participatory qualitative data collection methodologies, including in-depth interviews (IDI) and focus group discussions (FGDs).
In-depth interview (IDI) data collection was conducted through phone interviews with 17 randomly selected men across 12 of the 15 sub-counties in Kisumu and Homabay counties of western Kenya. A total of 28 men participated in five FGDs. All of the IDIs and FGDs were translated and transcribed verbatim, and transcripts were coded in Nvivo using a master set of parent codes as well as child codes. Interview transcripts were analyzed following a thematic framework approach.
The following are the highlights of the endline evaluation findings.
Knowledge of formal land laws and customary practices
Although most study participants supported joint land ownership based on what they had learned during the SYFF course, most of the men were still the sole owners of the land in their households. However, some reported that they were planning to include their wives as co-owners.
Most men reported that both boys and girls have equal rights to inheritance of family land.
Customarily, only men could own land and make decisions on land use and management, and boys were expected to inherit the land. However, things are changing, and many course participants have started practicing co-ownership of land and joint decisionmaking and have made plans for girls also to inherit land.
Study participants unanimously agreed that land ownership laws have more benefits than challenges. Reasons given include the fact that the laws are family-centered, have contributed to the reduced indiscriminate sale of land, reduced family tension over land matters which had often led to serious consequences including fights and even deaths, girls and women now feel more secure in their families on matters pertaining to land resources, and all family members contribute to decision-making on land matters.
Participants cited the lack of explicit inclusion of children in joint land ownership, together with the possibility of collusion between a man and wife (or wives) to sell land unnecessarily without involving their children, as a shortcoming in the land laws.
Attitudes toward men’s and women’s ownership, land management, or inheritance
Although most of the men still own land individually, several study participants expressed their support for joint ownership and reported that they were in the process of including the names of their wives in their title deeds. Some participants attributed their change of mind to the SYFF course.
Most study participants reported that they share household chores and other responsibilities, including financial support to the family with their wife or wives. This was in contrast to the common community practice where men were still largely the sole decision-makers, at least in part due to the perception that ceding any authority to women or allowing for joint decision making would be seen as a sign of weakness or having been overpowered by women.
Most course participants agreed that both girls and boys should inherit the land, and several have made plans to this end. However, some also reported that many women in the community believed that it was taboo for women to inherit land.
Self-efficacy on positive behaviors by men toward women’s land rights
Many trainees reported having been convinced of the need for daughters to inherit land, noting that at the family level, both boys and girls are provided with the same basic needs by extension, should equally be considered to inherit land.
Several course participants have already initiated the process of co-ownership of land with their wives. Some participants have already started to sensitize other men in their community to do the same.
Future intentions on inheritance plans and will-making
Many of the study participants had made plans for who will inherit their land.
Some participants who had inheritance plans for all children—both daughters and sons—planned to reserve inherited parcels of land for the sons and allocate the purchased parcels to the daughters.
Many course participants reported not having written a will yet. However, several reported being in the process of making their wills once their title deeds are processed. Thus, writing a will seemed to be linked to possession of a title deed.
Perception of peer norms on land rights
- Most study participants noted that the culture pertaining to land ownership is changing, with many men embracing joint land ownership and registration with their wives.
Participants were overwhelmingly positive about their experience with the SYFF training. Though initially skeptical, toward the end, participants embraced behavior change as a result of what they had learned, with most reporting their intention to own and manage land with their spouses jointly and to bequeath land to their daughters.
Recommendations to the key SYFF course stakeholders—the course designer, implementing partners, and donors—are as follows:
Course designer: Selection of course participants should be more intentional, such as the inclusion of couples in a joint session; land rights stakeholders including chiefs, assistant chiefs, and village elders; and people with disabilities. Other course design suggestions included translating course materials into the main local languages and increasing the course duration to two three-hour sessions per week or implementing the course continuously on a daily basis. Integrate a course follow-up plan with clearly defined tracking mechanisms of the course outcomes and impact. Delivery of curricula be responsive to the intersectionality’s of the participants with a focus on age, education, literacy, role in the community, disability, among others
Implementing partners: Consider scaling up the course. Partners should also engage in advocacy efforts to address some of the limitations noted in the current land laws. Finally, partners should layer SYFF curricula into other existing WLPR interventions and develop post-training follow-up to enhance the sustainability of project outcomes. Consider the design of interventions that facilitate knowledge translation of existing legal frameworks and norms into behavior change. For example, co-create behavior change solutions on women’s land tenure by engaging community actors from various levels – individuals, couples, households, leaders, the wider community; and contextualize solutions to local drivers of inequalities on land and property. Identify and build the capacity of male leaders in the community as agents of change in advancing women’s land rights. Contribute to national, county, and community level efforts that ensure all land-related justice mechanisms respect, protect and fulfill women’s rights to land.
Donors: Invest additional resources in post-training evaluations. Consider investing in long-term behavioral assessment of the impact of SYFF course for men. The evaluations should also assess the behavioral outcomes resulting from the SYFF course and the associated multiplier effects.