PAKWACH: Women activist in Pakwach district under their umbrella ‘Pacego women club’ in Panyango sub-county have asked the government and the traditional leaders in the district to consider granting them full rights to inherit ancestral land without any cultural barrier.

The women argued that about 70 per cent of land usage in the rural community is for the production of food crops both for commercial and subsistence but with limited rights and voice of women over it.

According to Ms Proscovia Binega, the chairperson Pacego women club, after divorce and sudden death of their husbands, women are deprived of their rights to land and other family properties.

She said the traditional culture still bars them from inheriting ancestral property, especially in Jonam.

Binega added that such practices violate the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda article 26 subsection 1 which stipulates that every person has a right to own property either individually or in association with others.

She said most women are ignorant about the existing laws and international convention that encourages elimination and discrimination of all forms of violation against women.

"My fellow women please legalise your marriages to avoid the misery of being abandoned without any belonging. Otherwise, all the unpaid labour in your entire married life won't be recognized," she advised.

The community-based organization is promoting women's land rights in the district through Uganda Women's network with support from Oxfam.

The move is aimed at addressing the issue of land rights and violence against women due to land rights wrangle.

Mr Francis Binega, the Panyango sub-county chairperson said numerous efforts such as empowering the traditional Chiefs through seminars, mediation and community dialogues organized at the village level on the benefits of women land rights has been positive.

He, however, said cultural barrier has remained a serious challenge with most women still believing in the vice.

"The government is working towards addressing the problem but let the women also help us by not fraudulently selling the land allocated to them after separating with their husbands," Binega pleaded.

Ms Dorine Owechi, a mother of three said men should be lenient enough to consider the plight of divorced women.

"After divorce where do you expect the woman to go with all the children?” Owechi asked, adding that I expect mercy from the men and elders to think about us so that we can also thrive economically.

Chief Charles Othobell III, the newly appointed chairperson of Jonam traditional leaders noted that the idea of women having rights over land is against the culture of Jonam, saying if resolved, it will fuel divorce and family misunderstanding.

He instead appealed for robust consultations before granting the liberty to women and other under vulnerable society members like the orphans.