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Early marriage among Maasai girls in Kenya is directly related to issues of livelihood insecurity, as is argued by CICADA academic partner Caroline Archambault. Archambault highlights the importance of understanding women’s perspectives on livelihood and land tenure, as they emphasize the relationship between land and well-being for the Maasai.

“I offer an ethnographic contextualization of the underlying factors giving rise to practices of early marriage, among the Maasai in Enkop, highlighting the contemporary predicaments of pastoralism in the face of population growth, climatic instability, and land-tenure reform and the insecurities and challenges around formal education…marriage is situated not as a relic of tradition and malicious patriarchy but, rather, as a contemporary adaptation to livelihood insecurity.”


Archambault also works with Maasai communities in investigating the impacts of land tenure reforms on gender:

Caroline Archambault partners with Maasai communities regarding land tenure, education, and gender studies.

“The Kenyan pastoral rangelands are undergoing tenure reform, changing from “customary” systems of communal management to the privatization and allocation of individual freehold title… locally, among the Maasai in Kenya, women hold strong opinions about how privatization impacts their well-being. It is imperative that women’s perspectives and opinions inform debates and discussions about rangeland tenure reform…as is clear in the context of Maasailand tenure debates, women’s positions broaden our understanding of tenure processes and the widespread impacts of tenure change. Maasai women have different concerns and perspectives on privatization than do men, [and] women’s experiences will increase our understanding of the complex ways tenure can affect development. [In] current discussions too much emphasis has been placed on productivity and the potential efficiency outcomes of tenure reform. Women remind us that privatization of rangelands has profound and important social consequences that are key determinants of well-being.”
Gendered perspectives on rangeland privatization among the Maasai of Southern Kenya (2015)Caroline Archambault

Associated Projects

Enhancing Ecologically Resilient Food Security through Innovative Farming Systems in the Semi-Arid Midlands of Kenya

Centre for Indigenous Conservation and Development Alternatives