How Do Community-based Legal Programs Work: Understanding the Process and Benefits of a Pilot Program to Advance Women's Property Rights in Uganda

Published: December 2010

This document presents women's property rights, especially access to land, are increasingly recognized as critical to achieving poverty reduction and gender equality. Research shows that community-based legal aid programs are a viable approach to improving legal knowledge and women's access to legal resources to address property issues. From 2009-2010, the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and the Uganda Land Alliance (ULA) implemented and evaluated a pilot program to strengthen women's property rights. This report describes the pilot program's implementation, outcomes and lessons. It details the program design, methodologies for monitoring and evaluation, and the context in which the program was implemented. Findings include a discussion of challenges encountered by the rights workers, overall program achievements, and recommendations for community rights work as an approach to promoting women's property rights.

Key Findings

  • Luwero Land Rights Activists Association's (LLRAA) Work with Clients land boundary disputes were the most common case type; domestic violence, marital problems, and child welfare cases were also common, particularly among women.
  • During the pilot, llRAA held 129 sensitization events across 64 villages with a total attendance of more than 2,500 men and nearly 3,000 women.
  • The most popular topics, in descending order, were children's rights, landlord-tenant relations, women's rights, land tenure systems, marriage and property rights, and will writing.
  • Rights workers learned about gender, law, and women's property rights, applied this knowledge to cases, mastered use of monitoring forms, and built group cohesion.
  • Close knowledge gaps among rights workers and their communities around (1) what constitutes a lawful marriage and a lawful divorce; (2) women's and men's property rights in and after marriage; (3) women's and girls' right to inherit property; and (4) landlords' and tenants' rights and responsibilities.
  • Create an institutional work plan for LLRAA to organize future activities and build a public identity.
  • Address rights workers' workload constraints.
  • Build on success with the monitoring system including continuing feedback sessions between ULA and LLRAA, sharing findings from monitoring data, and ensuring clarity and consistency of information collected.

Populations Poor, Rural, Women

Complementary Outcomes Women's Rights

Publishers International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)

Geographic Focus Africa (Eastern) / Uganda