It is NOT true that girls and women cannot inherit land. The law in Uganda is very clear about that. Fathers, husbands, grandfathers, uncles and clan members should stand up for their daughters, wives, aunties, grandchildren and nieces to protect their rights. Like these clan members in Tororo District did in Betty’s case!
Betty lost her father Marcus at the tender age of 11yrs in 2015. She was his only daughter and only child. At the time of his passing, Marcus left behind a piece of customary land measuring approximately 191/170ft by 140ft by 124ft and livestock but unfortunately did not leave a will. Betty’s uncle Daniel was appointed the heir and instead of stepping up and protecting his niece after she had experienced the loss of her father, took advantage of the situation. He denied Betty access to the property claiming that according to culture, women and girls cannot own or inherit land.
Daniel sold part of the land and while he identified another potential buyer for the remaining piece of land, this was discovered by the clan members who did not agree with or support his actions.
They approached him, to try and stop him from doing so but he instead threatened to kill them if they continued bothering him over Marcus’ estate. Fortunately, some of the concerned clan members had heard about JCU services through radio talk shows and they advised Betty’s grandfather (Gerald) to report Daniel’s wrongful actions. This was when the matter was finally reported to the JCU Tororo office in May 2021.
Daniel was invited for an office mediation at JCU Tororo, which was attended by all parties plus some clan members. After the mediation took place, the JCU advocate took the time to educate Daniel and his relatives on succession law as well as the role of the heir in the management of the estate. In the end, Daniel understood that his actions were wrong and unlawful. He agreed to hand over the remaining piece of land to Betty. The parties entered into a memorandum of understanding on the terms that Betty was the sole beneficiary to the existing estate and that Daniel was to hand over the remaining land to her. It was also agreed that the said land was to be taken care of by clan members until Betty turned 18 years and that Betty’s grandfather (Gerald) would oversee all the activities on the land.
On the 28th May, 2021, the parties eventually executed the MoU and the land was handed over to Betty and the caretakers were appointed in respect of management of the land. This was done in the presence of all parties including the clan members and it was witnessed by JCU’s advocate as well as the area chairperson. With this intervention, which was only possible because attentive clan members knew what was right and what was wrong, a girl’s inheritance rights were protected. JCU strives to help girls like Betty overcome the impact of some cultural practices that negatively affect and discriminate against women and girls but this is only possible when people work together and understand the value of integrity in their communities.