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Co-funded by the European Union

Protecting property rights of women in cohabiting relationships in Uganda




Women's Economic Empowerment






In Uganda, the property rights of women in cohabiting relationships are not protected by the law. Legally formalised marriage is necessary for women to be entitled to any portion of what has been acquired by the couple or by the man during the relationship when it ends, either because of a separation or death. The most recent demographic survey from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics published in 2016 showed that these cases are not isolated, as 30% of women in unions in Uganda live in cohabiting relationships[1].


The ICR Facility will provide technical assistance to the Uganda Association of Women Lawyers (FIDA-U), an organisation supporting women to exert and benefit from their rights and advocating for equality in the law between women and men, including on economic, property and land rights. FIDA-U is currently supporting the strategic legal case of a woman who has been in a cohabitation relationship for over 27 years and is now expected to leave the family home without a share of the property that was acquired during that relationship. FIDA-U believes that this case can lead to the enactment of a law to address the lack of protection of women’s property rights in cohabiting relationships. It would strengthen the women’s ability to access and control economic assets, which is essential to exercise economic autonomy and have access to finance and credit.


The proposed intervention aims to support FIDA-U’s advocacy work for a reform to protect the property rights of women in cohabiting relationships. It would focus on the following components:

  1. Mapping of the key stakeholders to support and enact the reform,
  2. Strengthening FIDA-U’s internal capacities to lead an efficient advocacy campaign,
  3. Organizing a dialogue among key stakeholders, including policy-makers and women affected by the current situation (e.g. women entrepreneurs, members of Parliament, women or representatives from other countries that have implemented similar reforms, etc).

Overall, the ICR Facility intervention should provide FIDA-U with analysis, tools and competences that will help the organisation to put the issue of unequal rights in cohabiting relationships in the foreground, to present how it is affecting the economic rights and opportunities of women, and to rally allies that can influence and decide on a transformation of the law.


The stakeholder mapping and advocacy training provided by the ICR Facility expert to FIDA Uganda increased its members’ knowledge in women’s economic empowerment and capacities to advocate efficiently for equality in the law in the Ugandan context. FIDA staff who participated in the training and benefited from the stakeholder’s analysis confirmed that they were more knowledgeable and able to take part in the current campaign calling for a reform of the laws governing women’s property rights and economic interests in cohabiting relationships.


In addition, the Stakeholders Dialogue that took place in June 2023 in Kampala enabled FIDA to rally new allies such as the Members of Parliament, academics, and the Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association Limited (UWEAL) which has 4.7 million members across the country and can serve as a relay of influence for the campaign, to make the voices of businesswomen heard. The dialogue also enabled a frank and honest conversation with groups that were not initially aligned with FIDA’s plea but could then understand the harmful consequences the current state of the law has on women.


Following the intervention, FIDA used the stakeholders analysis and new alliances and partnerships built through the ICR Facility intervention, to continue its campaign to reform laws governing property rights and economic interests of women in cohabiting relationships. FIDA is organising talks, meetings, online and in-person events, with the civil society but also politicians and business membership organisations, to explain how the law affects women and why reforms are necessary to ensure gender equality and women’s access to economic security and opportunities.


[1] Uganda Bureau of Statistics. (2016). Demographic and Health Survey: Key Indicators Report. Available via :

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