WOMEN IN UGANDA
compiled by Dee Finney
|10-24-02 - NOON NAP DREAM - I went to work in the Engineering Dept.
office where I worked in Purchasing like I did at A-C back in the 70's. My
job was to send out inquiries for manufacturers to bid on making our parts
for our projects and move the patterns for the parts from company to company.
In this case, the boss, Richard, was gone on vacation and a rush order came in which couldn't wait for him to come back. So another boss gave me not only the file with the purchase order and blueprints, he gave me the inside clips from the drawer.
I knew Richard would be mad that I had all that, but this couldn't wait.
I got right to work and then discovered I was still wearing my blue flowered kerchief on my head, so I took it off and put it underneath where the typewriter stand folds down into the desk.
It was lunchtime (noon) (the same time I was having the dream). I overheard one of the women complimenting another woman for what a great job she did helping some people, as we were walking outside.
Right against the building was like a short 4 car train with black windows, (the kind you can see out but not see in) waiting to take us somewhere.
The other woman said in return, "I tried to tell you that when we worked together in Uganda."
I could see the two women then, they were in their 40's. They looked familiar - I remember their names as Patricia and Joanne.
|FACTS ABOUT UGANDA
Uganda is a landlocked country situated in East Africa south of Sudan and north of Tanzania, while to the east lays Kenya and to the west is the Democratic republic of Congo (former Zaire). It has substantial natural resources including fertile soils, regular rainfall and sizable mineral deposits of copper and cobalt. Its terrain is mostly plateau with rim of mountains with a tropical climate, generally rainy with two dry season (December February and June-August) and semi arid in the Northeastern part of the country.
Uganda covers a total area of 236,040 sq km with a total population estimated to be 23,317,000 people in 2000. Between 1996 & 2000, 88% of the population was living in rural areas, where women constitute for 70-80% of the total agricultural labor force. One third of the total population (8% being children) was undernourished and 55% were said to live below the poverty line.
Uganda has emerged as robust economic performer in the past few years, with agriculture as its most important economy sector - employing over 80% of the total labor force. Real GDP growth averaged over 7% per year over the past decade, and underlying inflation has averaged 6%. Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in the year 2000 was estimated at 5 % due to adverse weather and deteriorating terms of trade, but inflationary pressures were contained.
Despite impressive economic growth, averaging 6.5% per annum in the last eight years, Uganda remains mired in poverty as illustrated by the 2000 Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.435, constituted from a life expectancy of 44.7 years, an adult literacy rate of 59.7%, an urban growth rate of 5.4%, while, food aid accounted for 51% of the countries total imports. The annual per capita income was US$ 310 and the absolute foreign debt was estimated to be 64% of the countries GNP.
Despite recent programmatic successes, current estimates show that about 1.9 million Ugandans are living with HIV. The social and economic impact of HIV/AIDS in Uganda is reflected in the decline in life expectancy, loss of skilled manpower, weaker agricultural sectors, and reduced living standards.
|EFFECTS OF TRADITION ON WOMEN.
I am Maureen Musinguzi and I was very glad to receive your reply.
I come from the western part of Uganda, Tooro region. I am a mutooro by tribe. My tradition, the Kitooro tradition, has affected women both negatively and positively. Women have very important roles to play. This has shaped a woman's character. It expects women to be graceful, obedient to their husbands and hardworking. Hence the women have unique behavior.
Tradition says that a man must pay dowry for his wife. This dowry includes cattle, local beer and sometimes goats or poultry. It all depends on the girl's parents. This has made women feel like trade objects for sale and not as human beings.
Traditionally women are expected to always be at the farm digging or stay in the house kitchen cooking. This has made today's village women ignorant of civilization and difficult for them to lead a normal life.
Hence they have turned out to be crooks.
Women are taken to be the inferior sex since they are bought. This makes them feel worthless. However today?s society has now given a fair chance of being superior, for example, they are given high posts like Ministers which in the past was not there.
In the Kitooro tradition, there some customs women have to abide with. For instance, women are not to eat certain foods like the gizzard of a hen. They are also supposed to eat from the kitchen while the men are in the sitting room. It is said that if a woman disobeys this custom, then she is undermining the men.
When it comes to home or village ceremonies, women are expected to organize especially cooking. For instance, marriage ceremonies. All in all, my tradition has made women do donkey work people.
I hope to hear from you soon.
WOMEN AND TRADITION.
My name is Maria, I am a girl of 15 and go to Nabisunsa Girls school in senior 3. It is found in Kampala the capital of Uganda . I am proud of my school because of the services it provides to improve on my academic standard.
Tradition is an opinion, belief or custom that is handed down from generation to generation in a particular place. There are certain duties for people in a society to carry out. These duties are the roles which in many cases dictated by traditions.
EFFECTS OF TRADITION ON WOMEN.
My name is Kyewalyanga Sumayah. I am happy to have received your replies.
My culture, the Ganda culture for Baganda, is a rich and deeply rooted culture, which has many customs and tortems. Baganda speak Luganda as there language. They had a kingdom before the colonial masters created the present Uganda, which now has many tribes. The kingdom still exists but it is now traditional kind of kingdom. And the king Buganda today is Ronald Muwenda Mutebi.
Traditionally women are regarded as the inferior sex who tend to the house chores And please their husbands.
However, today women are not so inferior especially those who are educated. They are allowed to have their own homes and they are also allowed to do descent jobs. Better still, they are even allowed to hold high posts in the parliament.
Women in my tradition, for example girls are in some homes still not allowed to go to school just because their parents think that women are meant to get married and give birth to children. This is not true because the best performing students today are girls.
Women in my culture are taken as property to be bought and can be treated as those who take them wish as long as they pay the dowry bride price to the parents.
According to this, women have been made to believe that their rightful position is under the man and their place in a home is the kitchen.
Women in my culture were not allowed to eat some foods like chicken, grasshoppers and various other foods.
Women in my culture were not supposed to apply for divorce from their husbands because it is a taboo. It was the husbands to decide whether to divorce or not but he can marry a harem as he wishes without even asking permission from the current wives or wife
EFFECTS OF TRADITION ON WOMEN.
Am pleased to receive your responses and let me know about you. I am Zahara Gaina writing again. I come from the Western part of Uganda called Mbarara found in Ankole where people speak Runyankole.
The people of Uganda have many customs because of the many tribes we have. Traditionally, women are regarded as inferior. Years back, they were not even allowed to join in some communal activities like in the local counts. They were meant to stay in their compounds and do the house chores . They were not allowed to eat things like sheep meat, chicken and some type of fish. When a misfortune befell somebody, they suspected a witch who in most cases would be a woman.
When a woman got into trouble such as getting pregnant before marriage , they would be sent out of the community.
However, today, women are not so inferior anymore. They are allowed to have their own homes and they are also allowed to do descent jobs. Better still the are even allowed to hold high posts in the parliament.
Today, women have freed themselves from such customs though a few are still not allowed to choose their own husbands. The present government has an interest in women's welfare and has tried to bring them up by offering them posts in parliament and as minister.
However, there is still a negative attitude towards women like girls in some families are not allowed to go to school just because their parents believe that women are meant for marriage and give birth to children. This is not true because results show that the best performing students in my country today are girls.
Women in my culture were not supposed to apply for a divorce because it's a taboo. It is the husband to decide or not. Women are treated like property of society. They are not supposed to marry men but instead men are to marry them.
Women and Tradition -- Second Exchange -- Myths and Facts
WOMEN AND TRADITION.
We are female students from Mt.St.Marys Namagunga, a Ugandan school. We are students willing to correspond and send ideas about women and tradition to other students in other schools.
MYTHS AND FACTS SURROUNDING WOMEN.
Traditionally, there are many myths and facts that surround women.
In some parts of Uganda, it is believed that when a woman sweeps her house at night, she will be sweeping out her riches. It is too believed that when a woman jumps over another the latter will stop growing.
If a snake or black cat crossed a woman's path or if one dreamt about meat or heard an owls hoot at night, this would mean death for someone in the family.
It is also believed that if one did not have the marks of the letter M formed by the three lines on her palm she would never be rich.
In other parts of Uganda, if a water barrel rolled down a hill back to the water source or if the lower lid of your eye twitched, this would indicate an omen but if the upper lid twitched, happiness would come her way.
The people believed that if a woman sat on a cooking stone or ate fish ,eggs or chicken, this would lead to infertility. Up till now some people still believe in these myths and offer sacrifices to appease the gods when in the wrong.
Some of these myths encouraged the women to be careful, for example, when carrying their water pots so that they would not fall and break. Others encouraged the women to have good morals such as excusing oneself in order to get way instead of jumping over someone.
A few were simply there to scare them or deprive them of some pleasures like eating delicacies mentioned above. This was food regarded for the men only.
In those days, women had to do all the domestic work. They were expected to submit to their husbands, a term called blind obedience. All the above are still believed in although most women of modern times are becoming more knowledgeable and independent.
Woman and Tradition: Canada -- Response from School in Northern Territory
Woman and Tradition: Myths and Beliefs. Second Response.
We all had a meeting, with elders. The topic was talking about Inuit myths and beliefs. Here are some myths and beliefs:
1. If a young woman/teenager, when they catch their first fish or lemming they have to put the animal in their pants through the pants so, in the future the woman would have a quick and easy child birth.
2. Long ago, men/boys who didn't knew how to build a Igloo they would not have any wives.
3. And, if a lady would not know how to sew the lady wasn't allowed any husbands.
4. When a lady is going to be in labor soon, she has to build an Igloo by herself. She cooks only one meal, and that meal has to last for a few days. At the meeting, this elder was the oldest of our town. And she had tattoos on her. Long ago must have been very painful to want to have tattoos on our skin.
This is how she told us.
Use a copper metal and make little holes on the skin, then have a little, bit long piece of stick put the sut from the qulik on the piece of stick, and put the stick with sut, in the holes on the skin.
Second response - Women and Tradition - Myths and Beliefs
A couple of days ago our group went to talk to elders. They where very helpful and told us everything we wanted to know.
This is some things that we heard.
-Young girls where not to pack heavy rocks because there baby might grow up very big.
-Young girl would get up in the morning and go straight out to check the weather this would encourage easy labour.
- The first fish that a girl caught was supposed to be put head first down the leg of her pants. This was so that she would have easy labour once she was pregnant.
- Arranged marriages. Parents would choose partners for their children sometimes even before they were born. In some cases the boys would help raise their future wives and carry them in an amauti (packing parka).
- Sometimes, when women had too many children to feed, the family would leave newborn females to freeze to death on the ice. Later there would be a shortage of females. Then men would fight over the women to find get mate.
- For a month after giving birth, a mother was not allowed drink water.
- For a month after giving birth, the wife had to sleep apart from her husband.
- If a girl has left her kamiqs (boots) unlaced, she will have a long umbilical cord on her babies.
I learned a lot by going to the meeting.
Women and Tradition: South Africa Response
Sorry to take so long to respond, line problems. We (grade 7) would like to share a little bit about our culture. We have lots of cultures and it vary from nationality to nationality.
In our school we have the majority of Zulu's and S. Sotho's, even though some of us speak a different language at home, but at school we only do the two.
Let us tell you about our marriages. In olden days marriages were arranged, your parents would look for a suitable partner for you(what they looked for was the way that family handled itself) and they would start planning the feast. A cow was supposed to be slaughter and African beer made with soghurm was to feel buckets for people to enjoy after
The meals. People were suppose to bring gifts (like - African mats, pumpkins, African pots made from clay and many more) After the feast - few days After the couple would build a house not very far from their parents' house and they would have many children. Nowadays, the new generation doesn't want arranged marriages - That is why we have so many divorces because people marry people they don't know. In those days the elders would always pick somebody for you they knew would make a good wife / husband.
We will tell you more next time - how African beer is made.
Grade 7 - St. Matthews
|October 24, 2002
Ugandan Women Seek Right to Own Land
Run Date: 08/30/01
By Jennifer Bakyawa
Ugandan women do the vast majority of the agricultural work, as they do throughout Africa, but they own only 8 percent of the land that they till and have virtually no property rights. Now they are demanding legal co-ownership with their husbands.
KAMPALA, Uganda (WOMENSENEWS)--Winfred Busingye, 41, is up by 6 to prepare breakfast for her family--four children and a snoring partner. She packs a lunch of the previous day's leftovers for herself and the children because they will spend many hours in the fields, returning at dusk.
This is a daily ritual in Kitunga subcounty in southwestern Uganda.
In contrast, Busingye's male partner is still sleeping or nursing a hangover. As the day warms, he may go out drinking again or lounge in one-room shacks that serve as bars, waiting for friends to buy him a free drink of banana beer.
Sometimes, he joins her in the fields to plant and tend bananas that he either sells or brews.
Every year, Busingye must sell some of the family's food to pay taxes for her husband, or else he is locked up. In case she does not, he will sell a piece of the family land.
Busingye is one of an estimated 12 million Ugandan women, most of them engaged in agriculture, who have virtually no property rights because customary law gives property to their husbands.
In Africa, Men Own the Land, Women Till It, but They Have Few Rights
Throughout Africa, men own the land and the women work it--seldom with their own rights to it. This system may be beginning to crumble, however, at least in Uganda.
Earlier this month, the Uganda Women's Network, which includes more than 40 organizations, met here in the capital to develop a strategy to push legislation that would allow women to jointly own land on which the family home is situated or where the family derives sustenance, usually subsistence.
"Women provide over 80 percent of the farm labor force, yet don't have a stake in the land since it is owned solely by men," says Sheila Kawamara, the coordinator of the network.
This is an apparent reaction to several attempts to persuade the governing political party to support a change in the nation's land laws.
Women activists tried to mobilize rural women against the Movement, the governing political party, before the referendum polls that were held last June.
They demonstrated in Rukungiri district in western Uganda on International Women's Day, March 8. They put on black T-shirts and marched demanding a co-ownership clause to the Land Act, as well as enactment of the bills against domestic violence and sexual offenses. They also demanded establishment of an Equal Opportunities Commission.
But this came to naught when the Movement of President Yoweri Museveni won the referendum.
The women now have decided on political lobbying.
Women Seek Protection Against Unscrupulous Landowners
Their focus is on gaining support for a change to the nation's land laws proposed since 1998 by Miria Matembe, then a member of Uganda's parliament and now Minister of Ethics and Integrity. If enacted, the law would require a registered landowner to obtain the consent of all family members before selling the land on which he or she ordinarily resides with the spouse or children, or from which they derive sustenance. Family members include spouses and children of majority age or a parish land committee in cases of children below the age of majority.
Those for the proposal argue that it will protect families, particularly those headed by women, against unscrupulous landowners who take away a widowed or divorced woman's property and home.
Like Mzee Namisango, 65, who was evicted from the land where she and her husband had lived for 40 years in Mukono district, central Uganda. Her husband, Ssesanga, had gone into debt and sold off their land. Namisango knew nothing of the sale until the buyer showed up in 1997 and bundled her and her eight grandchildren off. Her husband had fled and was in hiding for weeks. She was paid only the equivalent of $58 (about 100,000 Uganda shillings) in compensation.
Namisango suffered a stroke that left her partially deaf and unable to speak. She took the case to the village court. Officials could not help but charged the equivalent of $11 for their time. After paying a truck driver the equivalent of $22 to move her few household goods, she was left virtually penniless.
Land Ownership Clause Would Include Multiple Wives as Owners
After almost two years, Baguma Isoke, the minister of state for lands, finally consulted Matembe and other women activists on the clause. The ministry had broadened the now-controversial clause to include polygamous marriages so that wives living jointly on a piece of land with their husbands would all co-own it. In the case of wives living independently, each would co-own the land with the husband.
However, the controversial women's rights legislation now has been deferred to the Domestic Relations Bill which has been on the shelf since 1964.
"Cabinet's decision to refer the clause on co-ownership to the Domestic Relations Bill bespeaks of a hidden and sinister intention to surely deny the women their due as demanded for under the Land Act. For the last 35 years, successive governments have tried to carry out reform on family law, which has never been completed," says Jaqueline Asiimwe, chair of the Uganda Land Alliance.
However, by attempting to put off the battle, the parliament may have aroused more intense pressure for the land proposal.
"If government remains adamant on this clause, we have the numerical support," said Abu Dominica, former chair of the Uganda Women Parliamentary Association. "I think we aren't asking too much."
Jennifer Bakyawa is a journalist in Kampala, Uganda.
For more information:
The Human Rights Information Network
By Patricia McFadden, Women in Action, issue 1