Issues of engendering women’s rights require three critical interventions:
1. Constitutional Order: In Uganda, we have the 1995 which provides a basis for reforms, among others, those that engender women’s property rights.
Uganda has been a signatory to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women since 1979. The NRM Government has been a demonstratively active implementer of this.
2. Institutional Arrangements: institutional arrangements that are in place in Uganda include: a National Machinery for the advancement of Women and Gender – MGLSD; Ministry of Lands; DLBs; ALCs; LC II & III Courts; the Judiciary (Magistrate courts) and administrative institutions, the office of RDC (because land matters usually result in insecurity and violence).
Development Partners need to increase resources to further support andstrengthen these institutions, to increase their capacity to respond to women issues regarding land ownership and land use.
The Ministry is also aware that land has since transformed from a ‘socio-cultural’ issue to an economic commodity thus lending itself to the phenomenon of land grabbing, which is now on the increase, leading to agreater threat of dispossession especially amongst women.
The President issued a Statement on Land grabbing in Uganda which is accessible on the Ministry’s website (www.mlhud.go.ug).
On this one again, Government has shown a positive political will tosupport the institutions address women issues especially those that emphasize their economic emancipation and fulfillment of human rights obligations.
3. Addressing the Normative Behavioral Codes
Proponents of women’s secure access to the use, and ownership of land commonly cite the need to change cultural attitudes that limit women’s ability to exercise control over land.
Take an example of the recent cases of women undressing themselves in Amuru and Soroti districts protesting over land wrangles. Nudity is not theanswer, there are other better ways of resolving women’s land issues other than undressing!!
In the past women undressing in public was a taboo and it was often used to scare men as a curse. The efficacy of such measures during these times is questionable! What works is legal papers, for example had they had Certificates of Customary Ownership (CCOs) then this would not have been an issue.
I do not rule out the fact that the men were behind this malicious intent. It is the men who usually influence women to undress, because no woman would go back home to this kind of shame if she had a husband, sons and daughters.
Indeed, patriarchal customs and practices are the primary reasons why legal reform has not resulted in widespread social change at the community level. The means of empowering women is simply to increase their knowledge about their rights, particularly to land and property.
Practical information dissemination campaigns about enhancing security of women’s land rights needs to target women with the aim of empoweringthem. Relevant information should be made available for ease of reference, that is what the Voluntary Guidelines on Good Governance of Tenure (VGGT) is all about – making access to land more equitable; protecting women and men from arbitrary loss of their tenure rights; ensuring that no one is subject to discrimination; making transparent decisions in a participatory manner; ensuring that women and men are treated equally when the land law is enforced; ensuring that disputed are resolved before degenerating into valance and conflict; and simplifying the administration of land and making it more accessible and effective for all.
The recent interventions in Kasese (GOU & FAO), Nakasongola and Kamuli (GOU, UNDP, ULA) could be applied in other parts of the country to promote women’s property rights for sustainable land management.
As I conclude, there remain many identified strategies in the National Land Policy 2013 that need to be addressed within initiatives to establish land and property rights systems that are receptive to women. We all need to work together to identify, apportion and address these strategies in the NLP in order to fight women’s insecure land rights. I have hope that this conference on women’s land rights shall provide clear entry points. The Ministry commits itself to implementing those recommendations that will ensure that we achieve what is in the NLP.
For God and My Country.