Innovating Justice for Widows in Kenya is a project by the Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS (KELIN).1 HIV/ADIS has magnified problems in unequal property and inheritance regimes. Many widows are young, and are disinherited and left homeless by in-laws. Courts are expensive, time consuming and often culturally frowned upon for resolving family disputes.
In Homabay and Kisumu Counties, KELIN has worked with community-based mediation systems so that they follow the laws and Constitution in relation to women’s land and property rights. KELIN held community dialogues with widows, elders, and government officials to get their buy-in for the project. They then conducted trainings for the elders and widows on the human rights provisions of Kenyan laws relating to property. Customary structures (Luo Council of Elders, Kabondo Elders, and Nyakach Elders) now mediate family disputes and help reinstate widows and children in their homes and family land.
As of March 2015, the project successfully resolved 224 out of 311 cases.
Thirty-six cases are still being mediated.
Thirty out of the 50 elders who are actively involved in the mediation process have been trained on land property rights to ensure that their decisions are in line with the Constitution.
Thirty-three percent of the elders are women.
Over 400 beneficiaries (widows, children, and elders) benefit directly from the project.
Ezer, T., "Innovating Justice for Widows in Kenya" (September 21, 2012).