‘Women’s movements make things move. It is good when women come together’: an interview with Precious Nahurinda

Christina Cadore | Mar 21, 2019
Precious Nahurinda Assistant News Editor and Gender Officer at NAPE

Currently 300,000 rural women in Northern and Western Uganda have been evicted from their homes, or are facing eviction, and up to a million more women are expected to be affected in the next six years. Land grabs have taken hold with oil mining and industrial scale farming forcing rural communities off their land. For women in Uganda land is not only a home but a livelihood. Women use the land to grow cops to feed their families and raise funds for vital services such as schooling and healthcare. As powerful corporations carve up their land, women are being pushed into extreme poverty and left struggling to feed their families.

In the face of these evictions, new movement of brave women is coming together to resist the land grab. Womankind partner National Association of Professional Environmentalist (NAPE) are supporting women to reclaim their rights, advocating for laws that would go further to protect women and amplifying women’s voices through Community Green Radio.

We sat down with Precious Nahurinda, Assistant News Editor and Gender Officer at NAPE to talk about how women are being affected by forced evictions in the Hoima district of Western Uganda.

Womankind: Tell us a bit about you and your work with NAPE.

Precious: “I am a feminist because I fight for human rights. I have been working for NAPE for four years. I go to communities to gather their views and ensure that women take part in radio. When I joined NAPE in 2014, there was a staff of 5 – I was trained in fieldwork and community based work.”

WK: What do land rights currently look like for women in Uganda?

Precious: “Land is customarily owned and inherited from fathers to sons; land is considered to belong to men. In some cases a father will leave his land to all his children, but this is less common. Generally women do not benefit from ownership of family land.

We have laws that protect women but only if they are legally married, not customarily married or cohabiting. Then they have no rights.

WK: How are women in Uganda affected by land grabs?

Precious: “Women’s livelihoods depend on land. 80% of the country’s land is used for agriculture and mostly by women for income and food.  When they are displaced, the money goes to men and does not go to the women. They do not even get a chance to harvest their crops. Women carry the burden. Men can disappear but women stay with their children. 

NAPE’s experience is that displacement is not good for women. Compensation only considers the head of the family and so money [if compensation is given] goes to the man and not the woman.  Then women are left with nothing and they have to return to their mother and father’s family with their children.”

WK: How does NAPE support women facing evictions?

Precious: “If the government is coming up with projects that demand land, then it needs to consider men and women. NAPE supports women to stand up for their rights, we say: ‘you cannot know until you know you know’.

We are also fighting to ensure that customary laws and marriage are recognised legally, advocating for the Marriage Bill to be passed.”

WK: What is one of your proudest moment since you began working with NAPE?Precious Naturinda, Assistant News Editor & Gender Officer for NAPE's Community Green Radio, Hoima

Precious: “Breaking the eviction story at Rwamutonga [a community of 250 families who were violently evicted when wealthy businessman claimed ownership of their land and tried to sell off to make way for an oil waste treatment plant. Betty is just one of the women who was forcefully evicted.]. The Green Radio went on air on 1st August and on 25 August at 6am the eviction at Rwamutonga happened.  Commercial radio did not want to hear the community voices. On eviction day there were police and security and I went with a colleague to visit. We were scared. The radio company didn’t want me to put the story on air but I broke the story for the community and it got international coverage. Now their journey is different. It gives me strength. Their excitement is my happiness.” 

WK: Why are women’s movements important for you?

Precious: “Women should come together and fight for their rights, to be economically empowered to buy their own land. When you sit down as a group, you share and learn.

Women’s movements are safe spaces to discuss issues. They make things move. It is good for women to join together. If 100 or 200 women come together then they must have a point.  More women are coming together. They can pull and uplift each other to fight for their rights.”

How can I help?

Together, we have the opportunity to significantly increaseUK-AID-Donations_flag-RGB support to women experiencing forced, and often violent, evictions in Uganda right now. Donate to our Reclaiming Stolen Livelihoods appeal by May 28th and your donation will be doubled by the UK government.

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