Traditional cultural structures support women to access land in Gulu district

It is the weekly village market day in Paromo village and Jacqueline is seated at her tiny stall with her youngest baby strapped to her back. She requests a friend to take over her stall temporarily as she gladly welcomes us. We set off on a winding bushy path to her home nearby where she prepares a neatly woven papyrus mat for us to sit for the interview. Jacqueline shared her story;

Aciro Jacqueline in her garden
Aciro Jacqueline in her garden

“My name is Aciro Jacqueline, 27 years old and I have four children; my eldest is nine years old. I was widowed in 2012 after my husband was poisoned. I came back home because my husband’s family had become hostile to me. When I got home my parents offered some land for me to build a small house, grow some food and raise my children. Unfortunately, my mother also passed away soon after and even though my father had agreed to give me the land, my uncles interfered and denied me access to the land. I had nowhere to go and couldn’t even care for my children. Then I met Remis Opio (role model man), he told me about the cultural leaders who help to resolve land disputes. He took me to Saverio Otto, the clan leader, whom I talked to about my situation.

Around October 2015, the cultural leaders organised a meeting to discuss my problem and my whole family including my uncles was invited. Two other meetings of this nature were held and in the final meeting on the 28th January 2016, it was resolved that nine acres of this land would be given to me to grow some food for my children and to cater for our needs. During the meeting, the cultural leaders counselled us and encouraged us to live peacefully like a family and avoid selfish individual interests.

I plan to clear part of this land for this coming season to plant ground nuts, maize and cassava which I will use for food and sell some at the market to get school fees for my three older children. I am very thankful to the elders who intervened in my problem and helped me access this land.”