In the pursuit of development and progress, land acquisition for infrastructure projects has become increasingly common. However, such projects often have significant implications for the communities directly impacted, particularly vulnerable groups like women. In the case of the expansion of Kasese Airstrip in Uganda, women’s rights in the compensation process have come into sharp focus. Recent engagements with Project Affected Persons (PAPs) have shed light on the need for gender-sensitive approaches, and with the support of Stay Grounded, efforts are underway to advocate for women’s rights to adequate compensation.
Challenges Faced by Women in Land Compensation:
Traditionally, women have been marginalized in land-related matters due to deeply entrenched social norms and unequal power dynamics. The expansion of Kasese Airstrip is no exception, and women in the affected communities have faced a range of challenges:
Lack of Access to Information: Women often have limited access to information about land acquisition projects, leaving them ill-prepared to navigate the complex compensation processes.
Disregard for Women’s Land Rights: Cultural norms may undervalue women’s land rights, resulting in inadequate compensation for their loss.
Displacement and Loss of Livelihood: Land acquisition can lead to the displacement of families, disproportionately affecting women who rely heavily on land for subsistence and livelihood.
Gender-Based Discrimination: Women may face discrimination in the compensation process, with their contributions to family income and land utilization overlooked.
Empowering Women through Engagements:
Recognizing the need to address these challenges, CECIC, with support from Stay Grounded, has engaged with PAPs, with a particular focus on women’s empowerment. These engagements have aimed to:
Raise Awareness: Workshops and community meetings were conducted to raise awareness about women’s land rights and the importance of gender-sensitive compensation.
Legal Assistance: Legal experts have provided assistance to women, ensuring they understand their rights and entitlements under the law.
Capacity Building: Capacity-building initiatives have equipped women with knowledge and skills to actively participate in the compensation process.
Advocacy and Networking: PAPs, supported by CECIC and Stay Grounded, have joined together to advocate for their rights as a united force, fostering a sense of community and resilience.
The Path Ahead:
The engagement with PAPs has been a significant step towards empowering women in the face of land acquisition for the Kasese Airstrip expansion. However, much work remains to be done to ensure gender equality and justice in the compensation process.
Ensuring Inclusivity: Ongoing efforts must prioritize inclusivity and active participation of women at every stage of decision-making and planning.
Policy Reforms: Policymakers and authorities need to enact gender-sensitive land compensation policies that consider women’s unique needs and contributions.
Empowering Voices: Creating safe spaces for women to voice their concerns and advocate for their rights is critical for meaningful change.
The expansion of Kasese Airstrip presents an opportunity for Uganda to address women’s rights in land compensation and set a precedent for gender-sensitive infrastructure projects. Through engagements with PAPs and support from Stay Grounded, CECIC is leading the way in advocating for gender equality and empowerment in the face of land acquisition. It is crucial for all stakeholders, including governments, civil society, and communities, to unite and work together to ensure that women’s rights are upheld and respected throughout the compensation process. In doing so, we can create a more just and equitable society where women’s voices are heard, and their contributions to land and community development are recognized and valued.