Gender and Land Rights Database

Uganda

Policies/Institutional mechanisms enforcing or preventing women’s land rights

  • The National Action Plan on Women of 1999: 
  • The obligation to eliminate discrimination against women set out under Article 2 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is reinforced under the Beijing Platform for Action and the African Regional Platform for Action. On these bases, the Government designed and adopted a National Action Plan on Women in December 1999. The goal of this plan is to achieve equal opportunities for women by empowering them to participate in and benefit from social, economic and political development (11).
  • The process of negotiations on the Land Act ensured that the debate on women’s land rights moved into the public domain and achieved concrete gains in the Act. As a result, in 2005, Article 40 of the Act – which requires spouses to give consent before any transactions on land – was amended by broadening the definition of spousal land and preventing a spouse’s objection to its sale from lapsing.
  • However, the lack of a clause regarding co-ownership/joint titling between husband and wife in the text of the Law is considered a missed opportunity to guarantee women’s equal access to land. A large civil society movement, which included Action Aid International Uganda (AAIU) and Uganda Land Alliance (ULA), negotiated for its installation in the text of the Law before it was passed. This became known as the lost clause (16).
  • The Land Act partly incorporates the affirmative action provisions that are laid down in the Constitution. The Uganda Land Commission, which holds and manages land in Uganda vested in or acquired by the Government, must have a female member among the four provided for by the Land Act. The District Land Board, established in each district to hold and allocate land in the district, must have one-third of its members be women. For each parish, division or town, a Land Committee is established with a chairperson and three other members. Land Committees assist the District Land Boards in an advisory and facilitating capacity. In addition, they safeguard the rights in land of women, children and persons with disabilities. At least one of the members of a Land Committee must be a woman (11).
  • While affirmative action for women’s representation in Parliament and local government is in place and is included in the Land Act with regard to most of the land bodies, no such provision has been included for the District Land Tribunals (11).
  • The National Gender Policy of 1997, revised in 2007:
    - The government launched the National Gender Policy (NGP) in 1997, which introduced gender mainstreaming into national development policy. Within this policy, the Land Sector Strategic Plan (LSSP) recognized women’s unequal status throughout the country regarding land rights and reinforced NGP policy direction (11).
    - The 2007 policy aims to reduce gender inequalities, to increase knowledge and understanding of human rights among men and women, to improve women’s participation in decision-making in administrative and political processes (22)  
  • Land Sector Strategic Plan 2001–2011, final draft issued in November 2001:
  • - Developed by a task force comprising the Ministry of Water, Land and Environment, the Ministry of
    -Finance, the Law Reform Commission, the Uganda Land Alliance and the Makerere University, in consultation with national, district and subcounty stakeholders.
    - Recognizes the role of women in agriculture since Uganda primarily relies on agricultural production and women form a core labour force in agriculture.
  • - One action area, among the Priority Action Areas is Women and Vulnerable Groups. 
  • - As to common ownership and inheritance, it states that “further legal amendment is desired to provide for joint/common ownership of family land by spouses, as has been recommended through domestic relations legislation and amendment of the Land Act. There is also need to amend the law on inheritance to eliminate discrimination. The land sector recognizes that strengthening women’s land rights in law and in practice is a key strategy for achieving the objectives and purpose of the LSSP, and will work to mainstream gender in its activities as well as making targeted interventions to improve women’s land rights” (11).
  • The National Land Policy, 2011:
    - The objectives of the new land policy include:
    a) enhancing the contribution of the land sector to overall socio- economic development, wealth creation and poverty reduction in Uganda;
    b) harmonizing and streamline the complex tenure regimes in Uganda for equitable access to land and security of tenure;
    c) clarifying the complex and ambiguous constitutional and legal framework for sustainable management and stewardship of land resources;
    d) to redress historical injustice to protect land rights of groups and communities marginalized by history or on the basis of gender, religion, ethnicity and other forms of vulnerability to achieve balanced growth and social equity;
    e) reforming and streamline land rights administration to ensure efficient, effective and equitable delivery of land services;
    f) ensuring sustainable utilization, protection and management of environmental, natural and cultural resources on land for national socioeconomic development;
    g) ensuring planned, environmentally-friendly, affordable and orderly development of human settlements for both rural and urban areas, including infrastructure development; and
    h) harmonizing all land-related policies and laws, and strengthen institutional capacity at all levels of Government and cultural institutions for sustainable management of land resources (23).

Sources: numbers in brackets (*) refer to sources displayed in the Bibliography