SPARK Ignite: ADVOCATING FOR WOMEN’S INHERITANCE RIGHTS IN BURUNDI
by Elysé Ndayihimbaze
Life gives way to a woman who knows where she’s going.
Although very silent, a voice of resilience can be traced in the lives of Burundian women. From the most celebrated such as Barankitse Marguerite, Ntahe Christine or Niyonzima Mireille, to the “Mama Mboga” selling tomatoes and cabbages on the side of the road, all these women share directly or indirectly a story of hard work overshadowed by submission, discrimination and domestic violence. Which makes one wonder, for how long should they be patient?
Girls in rural areas are often married by the ages of 15-16 and they do not finish their secondary education as a result. Widows, unmarried women with kids and divorced women are seen as outcasts. There are reported cases of widows who are chased due to not having given birth to children or for giving birth to only girls. Furthermore, those who are fortunate enough to receive accommodation and work end up getting paid less after labor because employers are aware of the desperate situations they find themselves in. Women have no right to inherit property and married women are obligated to hand over money they earn to their husbands as it is culturally appropriate. Men have the final word in all land and income related matters. Women especially those residing in rural areas are highly dependent on their husbands and this has been the case for so long that it isn’t regarded as an issue by the locals.
August 2013, SPARK conducted a gender study which shed some light on the points above and today, we are glad to announce that SPARK is launching a new project to advocate for women’s property and succession (inheritance) rights in Burundi. Now introducing “Ligue Burundaise des Droits de l’Homme Iteka” (Ligue Iteka- Iteka a Kirundi word which means value and/or self worth) SPARK new local partner and also the first Burundian human rights organization in advocacy and human rights defense. The overall objective of the partnership is to help women access agricultural properties through a project promoting women’s rights in the provinces of Bujumbura rural, Bubanza and Ruyigi. The project outputs include:
- Translation of the property law from French to Kirundi
- Training of 350 women on property law
- Elaborating public debates through educational programs
- Public debates promoting women’s rights broadcasted on radio and TV show
- Organization of exchange meetings between women, elected officials and judges
* Elysé Ndayihimbaze is a Programme Officer at SPARK Burundi
SPARK IGNITE is SPARK’s blog of stories, updates and opinions by SPARK staff, on relevant topics in the news, stories from the fields, andwhat inspire us to do what we do. We welcome external contributions; to contribute please contact media[at]spark-online.org.