Patriarchal practices affecting women’s land rights in Tororo District, Uganda
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For agrarian societies, access and ownership of land plays a key role in the production process in developing countries like Uganda, where rural livelihoods depend almost entirely on farming and farm produce derived from tilling the land. Many academics and women activists have stressed the importance of equitable land distribution between men and women as a way to promote production. This is partly because ensuring the protection of women’s land rights enables even the most vulnerable rural women, widows and those with orphans to derive a more secure livelihood from farming. This study was conducted in Mulanda Sub-county, Tororo District, where women’s land rights have not yet been given much attention in practice. This study focused on women’s awareness on how the existing legal and institutional frameworks can be supportive to women’s access to land rights. The study explored the level of knowledge of rural women about their existing land rights and actions being taken to help overcome obstacles that limit their access to and ownership of land. The study findings revealed that the majority of respondents (60%) had experienced gender related land disputes and 90% were aware of the existence of women’s land rights as codified and legislated by the law. The study also found that local council courts, cultural Institutions and district land boards were important when it came to settling land disputes in the Sub-county. Finally, the study found that women’s fight to claim and protect their land rights has generally been effective. However, women’s struggles for equal access and ownership to land are being affected by corruption, which is prevalent within the judicial system. Furthermore, their struggle to exercise and realise their right to land is also exacerbated by the high level of poverty. The study concluded that women’s land rights can only be achieved if the issue of patriarchy is dealt with especially the culturally embedded sentiments and institutionalised forms of this challenge. The study recommends that specific measures from various stakeholders and institutions are needed to help ensure that awareness can lead to more equal participation of women in decision-making, in their struggle for equality in land rights matters.