Affirmative action policies and women’s access to land: A study of Mpunge Sub County, Mukono District
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The study investigated Affirmative Action Policies and Women’s Access to Land in Mpunge Sub County; Mukono District using an exploratory study design. It was based upon a purposively selected sample of 40 key informants including Local Council (LC) Executives from Mpunge village, 60 community members, officials from the District Land Board and officials from Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development. The study had a strong qualitative orientation and analysis of the findings was therefore by interpretive techniques including coding and content analysis. The major findings of the study were that on the institutional benchmarks for addressing women access to land in Uganda, the country had an admirable policy framework.TheGoU ratified CED AW and is party to the ACHPR (1981) which emphasizes the elimination of discrimination against women. The country was also a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948); the Md Gs and it had endorsed the East African Community Treaty which acknowledges the important role played by women in socio-economic development and in business. The country was governed by the recommendations from world conferences in Mexico (1975) , Copenhagen (1980) , Nairobi (1985) and Beijing (1995) which point out how discrimination affects women's ability to inherit, own and control property. The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda (1995) was found to be a basis for legislation that have been adopted and implemented in the recent years, like the 1997 Local Government Act and the 1998Land Act. These laws include an increase of women in decision-making positions and the prohibition of those customs, traditions and practices that deny women access to ownership,occupation or use of any land. The LC Court system as presently applied in Uganda is an effort to complement the formal with more informal courts, in order to bring justice closer to the people. In addition, one third of the members of the executive committees at parish and village level, and one fifth of the executive committee secretaries of the other local councils have to be women. The major determinants of women’s access to land included; custom and tradition practices, financial stability, knowledge of land legislation, access to justice systems and legal pluralism. Some of the strategies proposed to improve and promote women’s access to land included creating awareness about land legislation among community members as well as local leaders, increase women economic empowerment. It was also important to discourage customs, practices and traditions that violate women’s land rights. The study recommended that the GoU continue its impressive commitment towards international obligations regarding rights of women; the LC Court system should be equipped with adequate and trained staff to handle cases of violation of land rights. The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development should liaise with other actors in identifying and drawing attention to key gender concerns and related needs, e.g. property ownership, land tenure, credit, legal rights, as well as relevant options for addressing them such as constitutional guarantees, law reforms and literacy campaigns.