A discussion in Washington, held this week, focussed on, how improvement of land ownership can help improve global poverty and foster development. However, this is not the first time when a group of land and property rights experts have commented on the issue of land ownership being dominated by gender.
Earlier, in 2010, while releasing a new online database called the Gender and Land Rights database, the Food and Agricultural Organisation termed the disparities that exist between men and women in owing property as ‘one of the major causes for social and gender inequalities in rural areas’ in India.
Analyzing the World Bank’s report, reason behind the disparity in ownership of land and property rights goes back to indicate the lack of proper education in a girl’s life that acts as a key barrier to decisions in her womanhood.
Since, education plays an important role in defining a woman’s choice in life and giving her a motive to fight for her right to land ownership, here are three major reasons why girls drop out of schools.
Expectations of Domesticity: A Harvard School of Public Health Survey in Gujurat (called: Girls get married younger than boys do) was conducted in 2014. The survey revealed that from the number of girls aged 14-17, 37% were engaged and 12% were married, while for boys in the same age group, only 27% were engaged and 3% married. (Source: The UNESCO Institute of Statistics)
Safety: Safety issues being the second most important reason focuses on how distant education is a very endemic and gendered problem, be it rural or urban India.
Infrastructure barriers: For instance, as of 2012, 40% of the government schools lacked a functioning common toilet and 40% lacked a separate toilet for girls. (Source: Rachel, Williams. “Why girls in India are still missing out on the education they need.”)
In rural India, 90 per cent of the land is owned by men- as a governing factor of gender-based land ownership being one of the major societal norms.
According to the data collected by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United States (FAO), according to the 2010-2011 report, only 12.8 percentage of female agricultural holders have ownership of land and property out of the total agricultural holders. (Source:FAO)
Latvia (46.8%) and Estonia (47.7%) are the only two countries where distribution of agricultural holders by sex (female) is more than 40 per cent.
Basi Behen, a 65-year-old woman lives in a small village in the Narmada district of West Gujarat. Married for almost five decades now, she tilled a small plot of land, earning just closely enough as her husband. This was just an example from a number of case studies of rural Indian women who are one of the few to have access to ownership of land.
“Even where women enjoy ownership rights, they do not exercise effective control over land, being unable to lease, mortgage or dispose of the land and its product,” read a report by Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United States (FAO).