Despite agriculture increasingly becoming a female activity in India, only a very small amount of land owners are women. Identify the hurdles in giving women land rights and the measures needed to tackle it.
After independence, India made a significant progress in empowering women. Increase in women’s access to education and reduction in child marriages, are some of the indicators. However, the gender disparities continue to exist. 65% of agricultural labour force in India is composed of women; also 75% of the total rural workforce is women. Despite their contribution, only 12% of women in rural India have ownership rights over land. Hence, most of the women workforce in India are not recognized as farmers and are rather cultivators or labourers.
Need to give rights to Women:
- Land plays an important role in the lives of women in rural India, who are highly dependent on it for their livelihoods.
- To make Indian rural women independent and self-reliant.
Challenges associated with giving rights to women:
- Laws are gender neutral but implementing mindset is patriarchal.
- Land inheritance in India is a complex issue, often intermixed with religious, marital status issues.
- Cultural aspects hinder women’s ownership of land in patriarchal societies.
- Women often voluntarily give up their rights fearing severance of ties with family.
Measures to strengthen these rights:
- Spreading more awareness about the Hindu Succession Amendment Act 2005 which ensured an equal share of women in ancestral property.
- Schemes related to agriculture should incentivize those who add women’s ownership of rural land.
- Special incentives for women farmers can motivate others to follow.
Education & empowerment of women are complementary to each other. Ownership rights to women will not only improve their socio-economic condition but would also reap benefits for the economy at large.
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