Target: Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda
Goal: Reform land ownership laws in Uganda to ensure equal rights for widows
Male-dominated property ownership laws in Uganda have led to the social and political marginalization of widowed women. Widows are guaranteed only 15 percent of their husband’s estate with the remaining left for the deceased’s male relatives. These laws must be reformed to protect widows and their property.
According to a U.S. State Department human rights report, “nearly half the nation’s widows are dispossessed of all or some of the family property after their husbands die.” In male-dominated societies such as Uganda, the exclusion of widows in property rights leads to their marginalization in all other facets of society. They are subjected to violence, often facing physical and mental abuse by their husband’s male relatives. Women in these societies also often face extreme poverty, worsened by lack of education and access to health services.
Elizabeth Epstein, writing for Girl’s Globe, defends the larger implications of equal property rights. Epstein notes that “[equal] access to land rights serves as a type of social security net, ensuring that women enjoy a higher likelihood of food security, adequate nutrition, and the potential to earn an income throughout their lives.”
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, a conservative traditionalist, recently prevented the passage of a proposed bill that would grant women equal rights in marriage and divorce for more than 50 years. The Uganda Women’s Network has stated, “People want to use religion and culture and male dominance to undermine the rights of women.”
Leaders in Uganda must recognize and embrace the fight for widows’ rights by reforming land ownership laws to guarantee equality for women, regardless of their marital status. The United Nations has begun to address this issue by adopting International Widow’s Day on June 23. This day signifies a call to action for the enforcement of international laws that protect the rights and livelihoods of widowed women.
Sign this petition to express your support for increased legal protection of widows and their property in Uganda.
Dear President Museveni,
Your beliefs about land ownership laws are antiquated and perpetuate institutionalized injustice against women in Uganda. In widowhood, women become highly vulnerable to abuse, poverty, and health concerns. Without access to financial security and property rights, widowed women in Uganda will continue to be oppressed in every facet of society.
We demand you allow legislation that protects the property rights of widowed women to pass. This will also allow Uganda to serve as an example for other countries to recognize equality in land ownership and create more inclusive societies.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Alan Whelan via Flickr