National, News

Women raise concern over delayed land policy

By Bida Elly David


South Sudan women leaders and activists have expressed concerns over delayed national land policy, saying its absence hinders understanding their rights to land ownership.

The women raised their concern during a one-day workshop organized by the South Sudan Land Alliance (SSLA) on Friday.

National land policy is a document bearing a set of regulations and procedures for how the allocation of land and its management can be handled.

Dorothy Drabuga, a women’s rights activist, said women are facing many challenges towards ownership of land in South Sudan.

She argued that delaying the land policy document has hindered women from understanding when to claim their rights over title deeds.

“Issues of land have become too sensitive in the Republic of South Sudan. Many people have lost their lives as a result of land grabbing,” Drabuga said.

She urged all stakeholders to join hands in addressing issues associated with land grabbing.

“In South Sudan, women are being marginalized because their land rights are not being respected. As an alliance, we are going to protect women’s rights,” she confided.

Activist Drabuga noted with concern that women are the backbones of every country, so they deserve the land title deeds.

“It is very important for them to own, access, and even inherit land across the world and in South Sudan, particularly,” she noted.

For her part, Anita Lubari Ramba, representative of the South Sudan Land Commission, tied the ongoing cases of land grabbing and women ostracism to poor management.

She added that working together to plan the land policy or Land Act amendment is crucial.

Anita said local community chiefs in Bomas have contributed highly to the mismanagement of land.

She maintained that land issues can’t be resolved in one day, saying that it requires ample time to put them right.

“Some of the government officials, even within ministries or authorities, do not know what is entailed in some of these documents,” she underlined.

Meanwhile, Hon. Akuat Deng Kawach, deputy chairperson of the specialized committee for land at the National Legislative Assembly (R-TNLA), commended the land alliance for its concerns over delays in land policy.

“We at the national parliament are much concerned about the issue of land policy, particularly ownership by women,” Hon. Akuat said.

She stated that the specialized committee has consulted the National Ministry of Land over the status of the document, but they declined to clarify.

“We went to the national ministry of land to confirm the status of the land policy, but we were told the document was not tabled before the council of ministers,” she said.

Akuat underscored that cases of land grabbing, killings, and displacements have commonly been happening due to the absence of a policy to regulate distribution and ownership, saying the parliament has taken note.

She hinted that before the land policy reaches parliament, there is going to be a public hearing for the collection of views.

Ms. Akuat noted with concern that women in the current society are victims of cultural discrimination over the inheritance of land title deeds.

“We need to have public views about the land policy because land has categories for individuals, the government, and investors. Everyone ought to own land,” she stated.

“Every woman has the right to own a land, whether through her struggle or inheritance. We cannot deprive them of their own rights,” she added.

The lawmaker condemned South Sudan’s culture of depriving women of ownership of assets in most communities.

“The 2009 Land Act has not included women’s rights over ownership of land. We need our own because we have seen in most of our cultures that a woman does not own land, home, or family responsibility even if she loses her husband,” she echoed.

The women MP stressed that their fight for the right of women towards ownership of land shall remain inevitable until it is done.

The South Sudan Land Act 2009 stipulates that the land is owned by the people of South Sudan, and its usage shall be regulated by the government.

It further states that land may be acquired, held, and transacted through the following tenure systems: customary, freehold, and leasehold. The Land Act protects land rights.

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