By Samuel Nzioka
My name is Leyla Samir Sudi, a mother of three. I have always felt sad when I see how women struggle to fight for their land rights. My interest to learn more about land led me to join Sauti ya Wanawake, Kibunga Chapter. Being a victim of land tussles, I heard about Ujeri Uhimike Community Based Organisation (CBO) who could help me fight for my land rights.
I was luckily chosen among other women to participate in the social accountability workshop organized by ActionAid Kenya in partnership with Ujeri Uhimike in Arusha (Tanzania) giving me an opportunity to share struggles women go through in their journey to access justice. This training was an eye opener and added value to my life because we were trained on how we can follow up on land issues and why it is important to have the right documents to justify ownership.
The training helped me to follow up and reclaim land for my widowed mother from an aunt who wanted to grab her share. I also had to challenge my father in law who wanted to sell our land inheritance to a potential investor, to produce a title deed, putting off the investor. My actions were taken as dishonor to my father in-law but I received support from my husband who followed up and had our land surveyed. I have also shared my knowledge with neighbors who have also processed titles for their land.
In Giriama culture, women do not have the right to own land but I have stood out to fight. I have also used Alternative Dispute Resolutions (ADR) skills gained through Action Aid Kenya capacity development trainings to solve land differences between my neighbors and also family members. I have also helped 19 women to come together to form Thakwa Sisters Self Help Group which is now engaging the women in more constructive and productive activities. Working with ActionAid Kenya, we have started a poultry keeping project as a way of diversifying income generating activities so that they can contribute to household incomes.
I am proud that ActionAid Kenya in partnership with Ujeri Uhimike CBO has empowered me through various trainings and the knowledge I gained has enabled me to claim my rights to land and help other community members. I am actively taking part in the Kilimanjaro campaign caravan and it is my hope that as women from across the region climb the mountain in solidarity, the struggle will influence the concerned governments to take action and support women in accessing their rights to land.