‘Women’s access to and control over land’ Oxfam India (2011 – ongoing).

This project aims to address the deep-rooted problem of women farmers and women in large being denied of equal land rights in India.  Largely patriarchal and patrilineal structure of the Indian society is the key in preventing women from enjoying equal access to and control over land. Despite of the progressive laws are in place such as Hindu Succession Amendment Act 2005 which gives equal rights to men and women over inherited property, women in India are still deprived of secure land rights. Women farmers are hardest hit as they are dependent upon land based livelihoods.

The target community in this project is mainly women across a number of levels, such as, women community/policy leaders, single women farmers, widows etc. Due to the growing number of out-migrations taking place by men, women in rural India have been taking over the agricultural work. It is estimated that women constitute approximately 50-60% of labor in the nation’s farm production.

In the first year of the project, HSAA, 2005 was used as a legal framework to increase women’s access to and control over land; however, during the project implementation the learning developed on the subject suggests that- very few CSOs are confident to work on this subject as rather than legal / policy advocacy it needs advocacy at the community level which will take years to show the result. Besides this learning, several questions aroused, those are- do this long drawn struggle justified as it will not able to support the women farmers to get their immediate need of access to credit, other inputs, government schemes etc. because women will get land only after the death of the ancestor; Considering this learning, the strategy had been changed and with HSAA, 2005, in the second phase the focus was on ensuring mainstreaming of women farmers on agriculture by acknowledging their contribution to food production by various means- one of which is to felicitate successful women farmers at the national level.

This year of the project will extend last year’s work on bringing social recognition of women property rights. However, this year it will not only limit to rural women- it will encompass the discussion around urban women’s property rights too. Despite of the law in place, women’s limited access to property is because of the social stigma and attitude. Hence, this year project will aim to build an encouraging social atmosphere for women for increased access to property rights.

The Project seeks to build an encouraging social and policy atmosphere for women farmers and women at large for increasing their access to land and property. The main objectives of the project are: To mobilize and build capacity of youth and women leaders to bring in greater awareness on the issue of women property rights and women’s right over agricultural land.

The project will work towards identifying and projecting researching policies at states levels in effective implementation of women-friendly legislation related to land rights; and will also do a secondary analysis of women farmers’ status in India.

The project will be at the pan-India level focusing on states where Oxfam India has been implementing the projects along with the focal partners of WPC (Odisha, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and Andhra Pradesh – there will be more states).

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