Swadhina is the Focal Point of Commitment Based Initiative of Gender Rights for the Asian region. Apart from communicating with the member organisations, Swadhina as an organisation has taken up the following efforts:
1.Introductory Planning Meet:
An Introductory Planning meet was organised on 10th of December 2016. The objective of the meet was to give the members of Swadhina Core Team, a detailed idea on the contents of the Commitment Based Initiative -4: Women’s Land Rights. 11 members, of Swadhina working group took part in the meet. At the meet Saswati and Srichandra of Swadhina shared details about the project and invited the members to provide their feedback about the project planning.
2.Swadhina Women’s Working Group:
Swadhina had planned to form a special group as Women’s Working Group in the lines of Women’s Working Group of ILC. The group was formed through a special
meet on 10.12.2016. The objective of the group is to:
-Overlook into the activities of the CBI-4: Women’s Land Rights programme.
– Discuss and present opinions, ideas and advice on the diverse issues on Women’s Land Rights at the local, regional and global level.
– Decide on issues that needs to be escalated in order to promote women’s land rights.
– Participate in meetings, events, seminars, workshops on issues pertaining to Women’s Land Rights.
– Participate in advocacy process to strengthen land rights movement.
– Monitor activities and movements related to ensuring of land and property rights of women.
Based on these objectives, a working group of 13 members –both men and women- have been formed. The members include women’s rights activists, women farmers, teachers, economists, communication specialists, government officers, other than member representatives of Swadhina. Smita Mukherji – a teacher and a former student leader was selected to be the convenor of the group.
3.Meet of the Swadhina Women’s Working Group:
The first meet of the group took place on 11.02.2017. Attended by 11 members of the Women’s Working Group, the meeting had the following agenda:
1) Understanding Commitment Based Initiative on Women’s Land rights
2) Discussion on Gender segregated report -I: Study and Recommendations on Khas land in Bangladesh carried out by ALRD, Bangladesh.
3) Discussion on Gender segregated report -2: Campaign on Joint Land Ownership of Women in Nepal undertaken by NLRF and CSRC, Nepal.
4) Discussion on Gender segregated report -3: Campaign on Land of Commons carried out by Swadhina, India.
5) Feedback and though-sharing based on the Gender Segregated Reports.
6) Process of dissemination of gender segregated report : Suggestive Proposals.
The Women’s Working Group, being represented by members of different strata of the society, it was interesting to see an amalgamation of different feedbacks and ideas.
Following the discussion on gender segregated reports, the members observed how the premises of discrimination in terms of gender and marginalized sections of the society was similar among the three countries.
It was also observed how the issue of land grabbing and corruption had similar hues when it came to the issue of Khas land in Bangladesh and Land of Commons in India – both being available land under the control of government.
The Working Group also commended the movement to ensure Joint Land Ownership of women in Nepal – especially when the constitution of the country was in an interim phase.
Highlighting the problem areas, the issues that came up were:
* Extreme lack of awareness and clarity about land laws exists at every level and among every category of population – be it a rural area or an urban city; be it a rural farmer or an urban property holder.
* Lack of proper land mapping, access to land data, land identification of land of commons, available land for distribution etc.
* Existence of extreme gender bias in any issue related to land stems from customary practices and social beliefs.
*Women’s land rights and property rights are often interconnected issues – with discrimination of one, leading to discrimination of the other.
* Many incidences of violence against women are linked to her ownership of land and property – where violence is often used as a tool of subjugation and negative branding of women. Branding women as witch (Dain) is often a clever ploy to grab her land
The group also came up with a set of possible actions for the future to push forward the movement to ensure women’s land rights:
* It is important to use different IEC tools to promote the different land laws among the masses – especially making best use of creative forms of IEC materials.
* Ideas to enhance the land mapping, identification of Land of Commons etc can be put and pushed forward to the government level. (For e.g: the government may be advised to carry out Participatory Resource Mapping with the help of local population for land mapping; land map of an area using colour codes for better understanding among the illiterate /less literate population may be displayed in the wall-board of every Panchayat.).
* It is very important to disseminate case studies or good practices from other areas /countries /regions among the local people as well as government policy makers. (For e.g: the studies discussed during the meet needs to reach out to the general masses as well as the government for getting a variety of perspectives on women’s land rights movement.).
* There is a requirement to generate support to push forward bills, amendments, legal actions which would promote women’s right over land in a big way. (For eg. The current status of Women Farmer’s Bill 2011 may be enquired about).
* A global push for the movement is possible through a common platform and sharing and exchanging of ideas, just as this meet through which the participants got a fair idea about the situation of land rights movements in other nations.
4)’ She-Land’: The web portal:
A web portal ‘She-Land’ has been developed as a global e-platform for sharing of knowledge and information on women’s lad rights movement across the world.
5) Translation of Gender Segregated Studies / Data:
A brief on study on the Joint Land Ownership movement by CSRC and the study and recommendations on Khas land in Bangladesh is being currently translated in Hindi and Bengali for distribution to the grass-root level as well as to different member partners for their respective dissemination. Translation to Oriya and Tamil would also be undertaken soon. Copies of the studies would be sent to different NGOs/CSOs, as well as to different government organisations.
6) ‘Rights through Splash of Colours’:
As an effort to garner interest on the issue of women’s land rights as well as to draw attention to the immense contribution of women to her land and agriculture, a series of paintings is being developed on the issue of : Women and Land. The paintings, being done by renowned artist Sri Saumitra Chowdhury , would be exhibited at different areas – with an aim to build conversations around the paintings on the issue. It would also be used as a premise to build advocacy on the issue.