Stop Signing on Land Purchase Agreements as Witnesses- Women Told

The Ministry of Land has warned women to stop signing on family land purchase agreements as witnesses instead of being co-buyers. Abdul-Nasser Olekwa, the Principal Land officer and Dennis Obbo the Principal Communications officer said women have easily been evicted from land because they have often signed as mere witness.

Obbo said many women have worked tooth and nail to raise money for purchasing land as a couple or family but at the time of signing the purchase agreement, they sign as witnesses. Obbo said it is a loophole that has been used by their spouses to sell the land whenever a disagreement rises without seeking their consent.

“Why do you allow to sign as a mere witness when it is you who has worked had to raise the money? Why should you allow your husband to invite to sign as a mere witness when you have been married to him? Stop these statements and belief that a man is the family head. Have powers to question why you are signing as a mere witness,” Obbo said.

Obbo and Olekwa were speaking at a dialogue seeking to promote co-existence of landlords and tenants on mailo land organized by Uganda Community Based Association for Women and Children Welfare (UCOBAC) which coordinates the Stand For Her Land Campaign in Uganda. The campaign a global CSO led collaborative campaign whose core mission is to advance and secure women land rights by bridging the gap between law and practice.

Olekwa said the injustices being faced by women on land use and ownership have majorly been culturally grounded where people have beliefs that women are supposed to be submissive to men authority and have no right to inherit their spouses or parents’ property.

Caroline Kayanja, UCOBAC’s senior programs officer said women are the majority of land users are women but the majority owners are men. Kayanja said if women are just land users and not land owners, it risks their existence on the land and their productivity on it is likely to be wasted.

“We know land issues in this country affected man and women but they affect the women more. We have invested a lot in revising land laws but we need practical efforts to ensure they work for women. The women should not be as mere recipients and but as beneficiaries of land laws,” Kayanja said.

Participants said there is need to forge a way of ensuring land laws are translated in languages that can be understood by ordinary people. Kayanja said women are being targeted because they lack basic knowledge on laws regarding land ownership.

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