Article Title

Women and Tenure Transition: An Examination of Land Access and Gendered Land Rights in Kanungu District, Uganda


Access to land and land rights are critical to development and poverty reduction. Currently Uganda, like many countries around the globe, is undergoing transformation of its land tenure systems, away from traditional, community-based institutions towards private individual freehold property. Privatizing land rights, however, is controversial; critics fear that this will negatively impact vulnerable groups, such as women. In the Ugandan context while new privatization reforms have passed, they have not been fully implemented. This tenure transition is creating confusion and reportedly leading to a weakening of the traditional systems and an erosion of women’s land rights. I examine women’s land rights in rural southwestern Uganda, with a specific focus on women’s ability to access land subsequent to the 1998 Land Act. In my work I ask: how do women perceive their land rights? What strategies have women developed to facilitate their access to land? Do women believe the 1998 Land Act inhibited or aided in their struggle for land? The research utilized three data collection methods: document analysis, informant interviews with local elites, and semi-structured interviews with rural female farmers. Data analysis revealed three main themes: women lack awareness of the new land laws, issues around security of tenure occurred due to the transitioning tenure system combined with gender inequality, and women are utilizing informal channels to access land tenure while focusing on development.

Faculty Mentor: Ellen Bassett