Women at Kaiso landing site on Lake Albert in Hoima District have been equipped with tips to defend their land rights from their husbands, in-laws and other land grabbers who do not care about women and girls.
Ms Jennifer Baitwamasa, the lead facilitator at a capacity building training, said women needed to wake up and ensure vigilance at any family land transaction to ensure that they are not described as mere witnesses than shareholders.
She warned them against buying land and other properties in the names of their brothers or sisters insisting that by testimony, most women have lost it to them or their children not their own.
“You do not need to fear to own land or other properties. It is your right. Some women have died and left their children suffering when the brothers entrusted no longer care,” she warned.
Focusing on women who are not legally married Ms Baitwamasa said they should always work to ensure that the properties they sweat for together with their spouses are registered recognising both of them as buyers or owners.
“Most times men take women to sign on land purchase agreements as witnesses but unfortunately women return home thinking they own the land together. That is why most women have been disappointed because the law recognises her only as a witness not the owner. That is why you find trouble with the spouse’s family members or other spouses,” she said.
Ms Baitwamasa also emphasised the need for women to make all possible efforts to legalise their marriages ranging from customary to religious or civil in order to get a legal recognition that gives all the powers as a married woman.
“No matter the years you spend in a marriage as long as it does not fall in the above categories, you remain as friends not married couples,” she added.
Ms Baitwamasa also challenged the women to consider buying land on their own to break the traditional culture that women do not own land.
“You can buy your land independent from what you own as a family where you are married or where you were born. You have a right to do it jointly with your husband or any other person,” she said.
On family property sharing after the death of a husband or wife, children take 75%, any of the spouses 15%, the heir takes 1% aside from benefiting from the 75% of children while all adopted or dependent children take 9%, according to the Succession Act as amended.
However, this applies only to legally married couples but to all children regardless of their birth in or outside the wedlock.
Ms Sylvia Kemigisa, the Chairperson Kaiso Women’s Group, said they will organise more trainings since the knowledge gap among women on the lake shores is still wide due to historical gender injustices.
“Oil discovery accelerated land conflicts as the demand rose higher. Most vulnerable are women and children,” she said.
Ms Jennifer Bingi, one of the trainees, appreciated the training saying it comes at the time she is on a grave dispute with a huge construction company.
“It comes at the time I was losing hope to defend my land rights. It is my only land but now being developed for a construction camp site. I can now proceed to defend my rights because I now know what to do,” she said.