Paul Jeffrey

Empowering Ugandan Women to Secure Their Land

Woman standing with bike that has plants on the back and two young boys nearby

In the rural Kyankwanzi district of Uganda, 600 women farmers are learning the ins and outs of property law. Equipped with this new knowledge, they’re working to secure their futures.

In this region, land disputes are common and create deep-seated problems, affecting income, legal status and access to food. Poorly maintained land registration and documentation systems in Kyankwanzi make it difficult to know who officially owns land. Without clear proof of ownership, families can be illegally evicted from their farms. Some conflicts have even resulted in violence.

Building community advocacy

Women are particularly affected by these land conflicts, with widows and divorced women often forced to relinquish land in family disputes. Those pushed from their lands are left with no way to grow food or earn income. Residents who occupy land face constant anxiety, knowing they could be evicted or charged with trespassing at any time.

Presbyterian Hunger Program grantee partner Action for Rural Women’s Empowerment (ARUWE) is helping women understand and secure their land ownership status and assists in the process of acquiring land registration/certification, which will help them avoid being exploited. Through advocacy and training, ARUWE is helping to empower local women with legal deeds to their farms and the ability to support their families and livelihoods.

ARUWE set up legal clinics in five villages and assisted more than 200 households in documenting their land cases. Already, 80 households have been able to avoid eviction. The project has also trained women, like Demetria, to work as paralegals and provide ongoing support to residents. “I provide information on land issues to my community,” Demetria said. “I am glad that this project has given me the opportunity to contribute to my society.”

With legal guidance, more residents are drafting wills to preserve land ownership for the next generation. The project also helps to raise awareness of land conflict issues with local councils, who are now actively working to resolve disputes and improve systems and processes.

The gifts of empowerment and security

Gifts through the Presbyterian Giving Catalog support women’s empowerment around the world through programs like ARUWE. It’s this support that enables the women of Kyankwanzi to raise their voices and stake their claims.

More secure land rights in Kyankwanzi have meant more security in food and income. Farmers can now focus on cultivating their fields rather than fighting eviction. Women are becoming empowered advocates for their communities and building more stable futures for their families. One area farmer, Rose, expressed her gratitude for the program: “I am grateful to ARUWE for bringing such information to us. As farmers and also women with families, security on land is our top priority."