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Gujarat's 65% females depend on farming, yet 13% have land rights. Incentivize female landownership, insists NGO

Counterview Desk
The Working Group for Women and Land Ownership (WGWLO), a network of 37 NGOs and community based organizations in Gujarat, has regretted that, despite tall talks of women’s rights, it found in a study that 23.2% daughters and 17.1% widows gave away their “title deeds” on property when they were alive, and 20% daughters’ names do not figure in the land records.
Calling it a clear case of gender bias which needs to be addressed, the WGWLO, in a just-prepared note, quotes from the Census 2011 figures on cultivators and agricultural labourers of Gujarat to say that 64.9% of female workers depend on agriculture, as against just 35.1% male workers.
“Other empirical evidence shows that women carry out 60-75% of all farming related work across most regions of India and across most crops grown”, the WGWLO says, adding, yet “female-headed households range from 20% to 35% of rural households. Gender wage gaps are wide.” And, as per Agriculture Census 2010-11, “the percentage share of female operational holdings in total operational land holdings is only 12.79% and the share in operated area is only 10.36%.”
The WGWLO further says, “Recent reports indicate that only 6% of rural Indian households have at least one woman owning land. Out of all the rural households which own some land, 11% are households where at least one woman owns some land”, and “89% of rural households having some land keep out women from accessing any rights to such property.”
“It is worth noting”, the note states, “that 61.6% of rural women aged 15 to 59 years report household work as their principal usual activity status, with 45% engaged in various activities for obtaining food for the household: working on kitchen gardens, maintaining household animal resources, collection of food and food processing activities.”
Given this framework, WGWLO believes, the state “should have policies which recognize women as farmers and also reframe agricultural programmes to enable the poor including women across different social groups to get ownership to livelihood resources and rightful access to government support and services.”
Wanting the government to come up with what it calls “Swa Bhoomi Kendras” across Gujarat, WGWLO says, there is a need to “develop and maintain Management Information System (MIS) of revenue department with gender segregated data”, adding, “Review of this data must be done at regular intervals to track the progress towards women’s land ownership.”
WGWLO wants there should be greater “developmental incentives (loan/ subsidy, inputs, market support) or differential incentives favoring exclusive women landowners or joint landowners”, adding, these subsidies should include waiving “stamp duty for transfer of property, exclusively in the name of women to motivate men to transfer/purchase land in the name of women.”
Further, attempts should be made for “automatically include names of married woman in the land title of husband with clear title, as joint partners so that they do not have to face problem after death of the husband as also their identity is established as a ‘farmer’”, the note says.

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