By Steven Enatu
The office of the Resident District commissioner Soroti district is currently disturbed with the cases related to land disputes as the rainy season continues.
Ssalim Kumakech, the RDC Soroti said many women are being deprived of the land rights especially widows after their husband’s death.
He said the office registers on average five cases in a week related to land disputes. The cases escalate during the rainy season because it’s the time that everyone is engaged in productive work.
According to the Budget Speech 2020/2021, the Agriculture sector plays a central role in Uganda’s economy, accounting for 45 percent of exports, and employs 64 percent of all Ugandans. Nationwide, 90% of all rural women work in agriculture produce an estimated 80% of food crops and contribute 90% of all labor for food production.
Women in Uganda make up 51% of the population (UBOS, 2002) and provide over 70% of the labor for agriculture. Despite this statistics, women own only 7% of land as their rights to ownership are restricted both in the natal and matrimonial homes.
Uganda’s Constitution 1995 provides that all land in Uganda is owned by the people of Uganda (art 237), and vests attendant rights in the people in accordance with the four formally recognized land tenure systems (customary, freehold, leasehold, and mailo).
Uganda’s Constitution prohibits discrimination based on gender and accords men and women the same status and rights in article 21 which provides for the right of every person to own property (26(1)); guarantees women equal rights with men (art 33); provides special help/protection for mothers and women because of previous historical discrimination against women (art 33); and prohibits any customary laws, traditions, or customs that discriminate against women.
While these provisions under the Constitution form a strong normative basis for women’s rights, Ugandan women are still struggling to achieve the equality non-discrimination promised in Article 33. This Office of the RDC Soroti says is due to ignorance of the laws by the community.
“Because the constitution does not empower us as RDCs to make judgment on matters of land, we only encourage dialog, involvement of local leaders, clan members and where we fail we advise the worrying faction to seek legal redress in court” he said.