What can be done to secure widows’ land rights under customary land tenure?

To rebut society’s misconception that “women do not own land under customary land tenure” different regions (Lango, Teso, Acholi and Bunyoro) and different tribes (the Alur, Aringa and Lugbara) wrote down their customs in the book they call Principles, Practices, Rights and Responsibilities (PPRR). The custom states: “All persons born in or married into a family have rights to customary land”.

For the management of family land, these same customs state: “Heads of families [defined as “a married man, a widow, unmarried woman, and a divorced woman”] hold land in trust for the family and have the rights to allocate land to members of their families and to protect land rights of women and children from trespassers”. The customs further say “The widow becomes head of family after the death of her husband”. It is therefore clear that there are a number of ways that women do hold land rights under customary tenure.
This paper examines whether or not the custom is being followed, and why. The paper will then recommend ways that women can secure their land rights in families.