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  • Writer's pictureErin Inclan

Cultivating Change: Irene's Path to Land Rights and Gender Equality

Updated: Jan 3

Women farmers express themselves through dance. Moyo District, Uganda. Photo: Huda M. Alsahi
Women farmers express themselves through dance, Moyo District, Uganda. Photo: Huda M. Alsahi

"What has changed? My husband and I are now planning together, and he listens to my ideas."

In Uganda, Amplio partnered with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to raise awareness about women’s land rights and gender equality in the West Nile sub-region. Women's land rights can transform lives, including food security, health, nutrition, and income. Yet in rural communities, few people know about it. Poor road conditions, lack of internet, low literacy rates, and gender inequalities create barriers to bringing land rights information to communities, especially women.

To overcome these barriers, Amplio and FAO distributed 400 Talking Books to more than 40 farmers groups. The participants, mostly women, listened to the Talking Books during their regular meetings and borrowed the devices to listen to at home.

In the video below, Irene Dropia describes the impact for her and her family.

Like others in her community, Irene left school early, after grade six. She said when things became too difficult at home, she got married. "I was young and didn’t know much about farming. When I asked for help, my hubsand became violent. I began cultivating the land, but since I was alone, the harvest wasn't enough to feed the children. I couldn't afford to pay for school or food for the children."

Irene said her husband mostly ignored her after she started having children. But he also went on to marry 13 other wives. She described her despair and told us she felt like a slave. And then one day a neighbor invited her to attend a farmers group.

That's when things began to turn around for Irene. With support from the farmers group, she got a loan to buy some hens. "They hatched over 70 chicks. Since the chickens were many, I exchanged them within the group and got a goat."

At that point, Amplio and FAO introduced Talking Books.

For the Talking Book content, the messaging strategy started by introducing the links between land rights, agriculture, and economic impact. Messaging was framed in terms of the social and economic benefits that everyone in the community can receive when women’s land rights are upheld. Topics included women’s role in agriculture, Uganda's policy and legal framework for land rights, dispute resolution mechanisms, access to resources and services, customary land rights, and shared decision making.

In response to community feedback, the team updated the Talking Books with information on gender-based violence prevention, and where to go for help. Talking Books also included information about climate smart agriculture practices.

"I said, 'There are some interesting topics...what do you think?' He started listening and he was amazed. He said, "Next time you go the group, don't leave me behind.'"

"When it was my turn to borrow the Talking Book, I listened attentively. All the topics were interesting. That night I could hardly sleep, there were so many new ideas in my head," Irene shared. 

The next day, Irene did what we often see women do: she let the Talking Book do the talking for her. "I introduced my husband to the Talking Book and said, 'There are some interesting topics...what do you think?' He started listening and he was amazed. He said, 'The next time you go the group, don't leave me behind.'"

Irene said she was motivated by the issue of women's land rights, that women get a say on land use. The Talking Book also influenced her decision to stay in the farmers group, which she said helps to relieve stress. Several of her co-wives also joined the group.

Today, Irene and her husband are growing enough cassava to feed their family and pay for school and healthcare for their children.

"What has changed is that my husband and I are now planning together. He listens to my ideas about the garden and land use, even in the presence of his other wives. If life continues like this, we will achieve a lot in the future."


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