To address the issue of gender inequality, violence, land rights, food security, HIV/AIDS and other issues facing women in northern Uganda, Women’s Global Empowerment Fund hosts a drama festival, Kikopo Pa Mon. every year. This year’s topic, chosen by participants, is RIGHTS Vs REALITY: Are Women Defending Land For Ownership Or Access?’ Women used the unique opportunity to participate in a debate with their leaders about the topic, and discussions centered around Women’s access to, use of and control over land and other productive resources are essential to ensuring their right to equality and to an adequate standard of living. These resources help to ensure that women are able to provide for their day-to-day needs and those of their families, and to weather some of life’s most difficult challenges. “Land is key to a life with dignity and a basis for entitlements which can ensure an adequate standard of living, economic independence and, personal empowerment therefore, the best form of land protection for women is usage”
This year 627 participants (women) from our program, and 104 local leaders at different levels including 7 members of parliament, 4 Local Government Chairpersons, Bishops, regional police commanders, Culture leaders, CSO representatives, secondary and primary school children). Discussions were headed by a woman lawyer, and a professor from Gulu University. Alongside women accessed health services including cervical cancer screening, HCT and family planning education and services.
In concluding the debate, it was agreed that the best form of land protection is usage and this can only be achieved if attention is put on the following: -
Encourage customary and religious leaders to raise awareness within their own communities about women’s rights to land and other productive resources.
Engage communities in discussions about gender-sensitive interpretations of religion, customary law and statutory law is key.
Recognise full or partial community of property as the default marital property regime.
Ensure the joint administration of marital property, particularly as related to immovable property, and ensure that clear consent requirements are in place for the transfer or sale of such property, requiring the informed written consent of spouses.
Recognise the equal rights of spouses regardless of whether a marriage, union or partnership is civil, religious or customary (including polygamous marriages, regardless of whether polygamy is legal or not).
Ensure that women in customary or de facto unions enjoy the same property and inheritance rights as women married under civil law.