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Thursday 14 August 2014

Uganda: Compensation And Resettlement In Hoima: The Plight Of African Women

Women work two thirds of the world's working hours, yet receive only 10% of the world's income and own only 1% of the world's property as it reflects in Uganda, where women are the largest employees in the agricultural sector, yet they have the smallest fraction of land registered under in their names.

There are concerns that the land compensation process in oil refinery area is biased towards men and presents barriers to women.

Compulsory land acquisition in the proposed refinery area allows the Government or their agents to expropriate private property for public use, with payment of compensation. 

Unfortunately, during compensation, customary practices that are upheld usually make a fuss of women.  Women’s attempts to assert their rights to property ownership are often seen as challenging society, rather than as an expression of their rights as Ugandan citizens. 

Women work two thirds of the world's working hours, yet receive only 10% of the world's income and own only 1% of the world's property. 

In Uganda, women are the largest employees in the agricultural sector, yet they have the smallest fraction of land registered in their names. 

There are gender gaps in decision making at community levels and it is worse at the household level wherein decisions are made by the man of the house, under whose name all property is registered. 

This pattern has a bearing on who receives the required compensation under compulsory land acquisition and where the family will resettle. 

While women are the center of household activities, it is the men who eat the fruits of their labour rather than share in equal partnership. 

Therefore, the need to address gender issues within the compensation and resettlement in the oil refinery communities of Kabaale, Hoima District is eminent. 

Unfair compensation narrations from women touch the very fabric of their hearts. Women are concerned that their husbands will not share the proceeds from the compensation. Ms. Bagonza indicated that “I want women to be considered. 

I am scared that since my husband is the one whose name is on the compensation form, he might take all the money”. Most family properties are registered in the names of men, and for that reason, they receive proceeds on behalf of the family. 

As a result, reports reveal that some men are threatening not to share the compensation. Women want existing laws to be enforced allowing them to feel that society has heard their voices. This process will allow women to attain the necessary support to secure their children’s and families’ future. 

During my field visits to Hoima district, I met several women with synonymous stories. Although the voices of these women remain muffled over years due to limited opportunities to share their plight, currently they are beginning to actively participate in agitating for their property rights and equality. 

Fortunately, there are many ways to improve gender equality in Uganda while both respecting customary practices and also developing a richer nation. The first step to achieving equality is to sensitize women not only in the oil refinery region on customary laws, human right aspects of the compensation process to allow them demand and defend their rights.

The potential for women's leadership in land protection, management, and active involvement in compensation process is arguably the greatest untapped resource for a successful, sustainable and practical compensation model.

Source: New Vision

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