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Land Ownership, Collective Farming and Women Empowerment

5th April 2012, Delhi: An interactive planning session on the topic “To Explore Strategies to Ensure Land for Women in the Governance System” was held on 4 April 2012 at the UN Conference Hall at the premises of United Nation Development Program, Lodi Estate, New Delhi. The meeting was organised by Initiatives: Women In Development, Joint Women’s Programme, Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network, Prakriti Foundation and United Nation Information Centre.

Amongst the distinguished participants included Dr. Jyotsna Chatterji, Director and Secretary, Joint Women’s Programme, Dr.Neelavalli, Director, Initiatives: Women In Development, Ms. Shobha Sakaharwade, Director, Prakriti Foundation, Dr. Charu Wali Khanna, Member, National Commission for Women, Dr. Deepa Ahluwalia, Sr. Project Advisor, National Mission for Empowerment of Women, Mr Ravinder Pal Singh, Defence Analyst and Former Project Leader on Arms Procurement, SIPRI ,Ms.Seema ,Consultant, Ms.Indrani Sinha , Executive Director, SANLAAP and Ms Binalakshmi Nepram, Founder-Manipur Women Gun Survivor Network.

Speaking at the occasion Dr.Neelavalli addressed that the meeting was organised to create space among women activists to explore strategies within Governance space to promote land rights for rural women. She said that IWID had identified that more than individual ownership, collective farming by women would be an effective strategy towards ‘access and control’ of land by women. She also stated that IWID had initiated a national level campaign for women farmers and collective farming that had promoted a number of collective farms by women in a number of states. She urged partner organisations, interested individuals to come forward to advise and evolve strategies to make the needed change.

Dr. Jyotsna Chatterjee talked about the importance of land ownership to women as they gave them decision making power and control. She suggested four step strategy regarding issues of land ownership by rural women through collective farming namely (1) to advocate much needed women ownership of land rights (2) collection of information or best practices, strong research for failures and successes regarding the issue 3) to open a format for addressing the issues to policy makers on need for women’s right to land ownership and to tapped existing policies, schemes and 4) women may own land but needed to use law and capacity building .She said that since a timeline necessary she recommended executing the strategy within a year.

Ms. Shobha Sakaharwade, Director, Prakriti Foundation addressed issues of rural women. She said that she was working in three areas namely Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Maharashtra working for underprivileged women who were often prone to do suicides. She said that she was working towards supporting these women to become self dependent by providing training programmes, education and awareness. She said that for women to gain economic and political power land ownership was important and suggested that in order to achieve this advocacy and lobby regarding the issue was the main need.

Ms Indrani Sinha, Executive Director, SANLAAP addressed the condition of women in West Bengal highlighting women trafficking in that area. She also addressed the issues of women and land ownership in West Bengal. She said that for giving economic and political stability land ownership by women is very much necessary. She said that they need to do practical work to achieve the set goals like advocacy- grass root information and funding. She suggest that for to achieve the goal regarding the issue a strong research was very much needed to know certain information on collective farming, schemes, government policies on collective farming and land ownership.

Dr. Charu Wali Khanna, Member, National Commission for Women talked about women farmers and their current status. She said that in India 80% of the agricultural labour was done by women farmers .She said that National Commission for Women would be ready to provide much needed help for such women farmers or the issue of owning land through collective farming if the partner organizers working in the issue gave them a feasible strategy leaded to the solution of the issue that could be done within a timeline.

Dr. Deepa Ahluwalia, Sr. Project Advisor, National Mission for Empowerment of Women addressed that best practices and existing positive stories in Andra Pradesh and Kerala regarding women empowerment through land ownership and said that legislation could also be done. She addressed that since land was fixed and limited, they should think beyond land and suggested to involved various government departments like horticulture, fishery etc.

Ms Binalakshmi Nepram, Founder-Manipur Women Gun Survivor Network addressed the issues of women and much needed their empowerment. Citing example of Manipur she highlighted the minimal participation of women in political field and addressed that it should had to be made increased women’s participation in political space to remove violence to women in grass root level.

Dr Ravinder Pal Singh, Defence Analyst and Former Project Leader on Arms Procurement, SIPRI addressed that women should engaged more seriously in decision making policies. Regarding collective farming to own land rights by women he suggested that a public policy making framework was necessary. He raised certain questions on the primary objective, its scalability and feasibility for the matter. He suggested that the National Commission for Empowerment of Women could play a national intervention regarding the issue and women empowerment. He said that women parliamentarians gave more concern to party line rather than women empowerment in the society and suggested them to focus more on women empowerment for a better society. He also addressed that since they should focus not only land but also other allied agricultural practices as they would be more meaningful for women in hilly areas would did not have access to farming.

The purpose of the meeting was to create space among women activists to explore strategies within Governance space – planning, budget, ministry, departments and special committees/ bodies to promote land rights for rural women. And also to discuss the possible schemes that could be suggested to Government and lobbying methods to ensure land for women. The meeting was concluded with meaningful notes and resolutions. The following resolutions have been taken –

1. To strengthen National level Campaign for Women Farmers and Collective Farming on an all India level under the slogan “Land Ownership, Collective Farming and Women Empowerment”.
2. To arrange a workshop to form a lobby committee.
3. A research consultation meeting to be held by May 2012.
4. A consultation meeting at Northeast India regarding the issue by August 2012.
5. To organise consultations with Govt officials and other like minded people.
6. To organise joint programmes by pooling capacity and resources.
7. To avail resource person for the trainings extended to rural women in different states.
8. To represent the cause at different national and international platforms.
9. To help evolve legislation on women collective farming.

For more information, please contact:

Director, Initiatives: Women In Development
Email: iwidindia@gmail.com , Phone: 044-24799855

Dr. Jyotsna Chatterji
Director & Secretary, Joint Women’s Programme
Email: jwp@airtelnet.in
Phone: +91-124-4053370

Ms. Shobha Sakaharwade
Director, Prakriti Foundation
Email: prkriti_ngp@sancharnet.in Phone: 91-22-2669122

Ms Binalakshmi Nepram
Founder, Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network
Email: Binalakshmi@gmail.com Phone : 011-46018541

Mr. Rajiv Chandran
National Information Officer, United Nation Information Centre
Email: chandran@unicindia.org Phone: 011- 46532237

Ms. Shobha Sakaharwade,Ms Indrani Sinha, Ms Jyotsna Chatterjee, Dr Neelavalli, Ms Binalakshmi Nepram( L-R).



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