Women and Agriculture in Uganda
Kampala, Uganda – Nov 2007
Although women provide 80% of Uganda’s agricultural labour force they only own 7% of the land. This disproportional low share of land ownership has direct implications for women’s productivity and consequently the country’s development.
As women are major food producers and providers most of them have access to land to grow crops; this access is usually attained through their relationships to males (husbands, brothers, sons, fathers, grandfathers etc) as they own most of the land. Various studies indicate that the majority of women have no control over land because the playing field is stacked against them, this can be attributed to the patriarchal nature of Ugandan society where men enjoy most privileges.
There is a direct link between poverty and land tenure, for instance, women’s limited land ownership discourages them from long term investments in land. Hence they tend not to engage in other rewarding projects like commercial farming or putting up permanent buildings. More significantly this has had negative implications on food security and cash crop growth in Uganda.
The Land Act 1998 safeguards a woman’s right to own and exercise control over land. The Act also guarantees women’s security of tenure for family land and it can be used to seek redress if they are denied their rights to own and/ or control their share.
However, despite the Land Act, cases exist of husbands throwing wives out of the home without allowing them to take their share of the property’s value even though they had acquired it together. Cases also exist where after the death of a father or husband, the women is left with nothing as the ownership of land and/ or property is then transferred to the male relatives of the deceased.
For instance 63 year old Topista Nampijja Nnalongo of Kirumba Masaka district and a mother of seven who was married for 37 years was thrown out of their home by her husband, after she had questioned him about his intention to sell off their only remaining piece of land. Previously he had sold two plots of land they acquired together without her consent.
As things stand in the agricultural sector, most women have limited control over the products of their labour and their contributions to society largely remain invisible. When looking at the wider picture across the country as a whole the outlook is bleak for most women.
In order to achieve greater development for the country, issues concerning women and land need to be taken more seriously.