Women in Informal Settlement Areas in Kisumu Speak Out

A massive 62 percent of Kisumu is made up of informal settlements, followed by 41 percent in Nairobi, according to research findings published in a policy working paper of the World Bank. This impacts the lives of countless people in Kisumu. 


In February and March of 2020, the IFA Western Team held a series of film screenings and community discussions in various informal settlements in KisumuCounty. Most of these mobilizations attracted women-only participants. From the post-film discussions, it was evident just how much women are affected.

The violation of land and property rights stood out clearly as a reason for the large number of women inhabitants in the settlement areas. Land and property rights remain a pipe dream for them, as access to land is tied to the relationship they have with the men in their families. In most cases, women have no right to their land when that relationship ends. This is especially true for married women and only daughters.

IFA facilitated women leaders drawn from the ten settlement areas across Kisumu County in coming together. After discussions on these issues, they decided to hold a peaceful protest during the International Women’s Day, instead of attending the County government’s main event. They mobilized women from their respective areas and notified the police accordingly of the planned demonstration and route of demonstration.

On March 8th, IFA Western team joined over 200 women drawn from Bandari, Usoma, Obunga, Manyatta, Nyalenda, Kajulu, Nyamasaria, Chiga and Kibos settlement areas in Kisumu County, in speaking out and being heard.

Adorned in purple and white ribbons, the women started their demonstration from the Kondele Flyover and marched for 6kms to the Kibos Railway Hall. Through peaceful protest, the women wanted to draw the attention of their local leaders and women at large to their plight. There, IFA held a screening of the film The Others - Nubians of Kisii  for the women. During the post-screening discussion, the participants realized that Kenyan legislation actually promotes women’s land and property rights. They felt the weak link was the judiciary, which should be enforcing these important legal provisions, especially at the grassroots. They felt that the state was discriminating against them, as it had a duty to promote, enforce and protect the women’s land and property rights.

The women participants decided that it was time to take collective action in order to avert their situation. They resolved to mobilize more women within the settlement areas and form a women’s movement, which would push their agenda - especially on land and property rights.

The IFA Western team plans to hold all-women film screenings and create women-led Community Action Teams (CATs) to spearhead the driving of the women’s agenda within the settlement areas.

Story By IFA Western Team

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