Factors influencing women empowerment among pastoral communities: a case of Gabra community of Marsabit county in Kenya.

This study was carried out to identify factors influencing women empowerment among pastoral communities, a case of Gabra community of Marsabit County in Kenya. Gender equality and women’s empowerment, a third Millennium Development Goal is considered to be an essential component of sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction. However, for pastoralist community gender inequality is acute and deep-rooted, much more so than in society at large. Women have: very low social status, very low literacy levels, very restricted roles in public life and restricted ownership of livestock (cattle and camels) the main store of wealth in pastoral economies. The study had sought to address the following objectives: determine influence of gender roles on women empowerment, establish influence of traditional practices on women empowerment, establish influence of property access on women empowerment, determine influence of property ownership on women empowerment and establish influence of formal education on women empowerment. The research design was descriptive where questionnaires were generated on related areas of study and individuals were selected through probability sampling. Sampling for household was carried out through cluster and multi-stage sampling techniques. The study targeted a sample of 91 women from the age of 18 years and above, 4 women leaders and 1 woman Focus Group Discussion. Data collection was done using questionnaires and interviews (focus group discussions and key informant). Quantitative data was analyzed using Statistical Package for Social science version 21 and qualitative data was analyzed thematically and the findings were presented in tables. From the findings gender roles, traditional practices, property access, property ownership and formal education have either a negative or positive influence on women empowerment. 90 of the respondents accounting for 99% of the respondents indicated that gender discrimination is the main challenge associated with gender roles, while 80 respondents with an 88% had experienced GBV. 79 respondents with an 84% turned to their husbands for permission in order to access property. From this study, there is need to promote gender equality among pastoral communities and sensitize communities against gender discriminating traditional practices and violence against women. The findings and recommendations will be shared with the Ministry of Gender and Social Services and all stakeholders of Marsabit County in general so to enhance women empowerment and address root causes of some of the challenges identified.