Women from across the world say in unison, Jai Jagat!

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Jai Jagat is a campaign launched by the organization Ekta Parishad, an organization based in India, to culminate on the year 2020. The campaign highlights the role of minority communities across the world in taking control over land and natural resources to fight poverty.

Ekta Parishad explains “Jai Jagat actually means VICTORY OF THE WORLD. That is very close to the concept of  Sarvodaya (‘well being of all’) that was given by Mahatma Gandhi. The underlying principle is that, if there is a victory then it should be the victory of our common humanity not the victory of one nation over another. The victory should also be based on the victory of living commodiously together, and of people coexisting with nature. If the victory is for everyone and for everything, then this is the best. A modern world needs to imbibe these new values, the values of Jai Jagat and Gandhi’s notion of Sarvodaya.”

The essence of this campaign was visible in the five-day International Conference on Women’s Public Leadership in the Pursuit of Peace held on March 23 to 27, 2017 at the Eugenio Lopez Center in Antipolo, Rizal.The conference was organized by Ekta Parishad and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

The conference addressed the issues of Women Public Leadership in the Pursuit of Peace by Irene Santiago, GRP chair of the implementing panel of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission; Non-violent Conflict Resolution in the Gandhian Tradition by Jill Carr-Harris (USA). There were also Case studies on non-violent remedies for ethnic, political and communal violence which had representatives from Thailand, Cambodia and India sharing insights, and; Case studies on non-violent action regarding land grabbing, resource extraction and agricultural industrialization with women from Cambodia, Kyrgyztan and India leading the discussions.

Speaking on women’s involvement in public spaces, Santiago said that “only social movements can bring about social change” and the women who were effective in peace had all come from movements. She also felt that “if by tradition, women and girls are tasked to set the family dining table, then another table has been put up to which can be attributed some of the successful stages of the talks, the peace table is set-up and put into strategic position by the women themselves.”

The highlight of the second day was the role of women in preventing violence and their contribution as peace makers.

Mosarrat Quadeem of Bangladesh, and Amina Rasul from Phillipines explained the situation of violent extremism in their respective situations and how local women were tackling it.

Former Gabriela partylist Representative Luz C. Ilagan also gave the long history of struggle of women and their important role in peacebuilding.

Mags Maglana, who facilitated the conference, it was a moment where “all incredible women (are) together in this incredible space at this incredible time.”

The conference was attended by 11 international participants from Cambodia, Thailand, Kyrgyztan, India, Switzerland and USA and 15 Muslim and indigenous peoples representative from the Philippines.

(News Source: http://mindanaotimes.net/ women-say-jai-jagat/ Base Article by: Amalia Cabusao Photos Courtesy:  Patmei B. Ruivivar)

[If you wish to get more news on the campaign and regular updates on the same, send a mail to the Ekta Parishad team : news@jaijagat2020.org]

Consultation Meet on National Indigenous Women’s Conference,India

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A “Consultation meeting for preparation of 2nd National Indigenous Women’s Conference”  was organised by Adivasi Women Network from 25th to 27th  April 2017 at Scepter  ,Kolkata, India . It was a preparatory meet of National Indigenous Women’s Conference. It was a programme supported by Samajik Seva Sadan Odisha  and AIPP ,Thailand . It was attended by 20 indigenous women from different parts of India.

They all shared their challenges as a women in their respective local areas. As they shared their individual tales, one thing that stood out was that though apparently there is progress in terms of education, work opportunities, when it comes to rights- especially that which relates to land and property rights, the traditional mind-set comes to play. Another aspect which was common to all the regions was that, any adverse changes in the socio-economic situation has direct impact on women.

Kirti Nileshwartha from Mumbai ,Maharashtra proclaimed that equality of men and women was inherent in their community. But the increasing  influence of non tribal  communities around have brought changes in their culture too . There was a time when women had equal rights in the family and that meant equal ownership too. But now the trend has changed. Every family wants a son so a to be the inheritor of the property. In fact social vices like dowry system has come into existence which was not there earlier.

Due to increasing caste division  has led to a feeling of insecurity- about life as well as livelihood. And this has a direct effect on the lives of women.

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But she was hopeful about the future of women’s rights issues. According to her, the Adivasi Mantralay (the Ministry of Tribal Afairs) in Mahrashtra are now taking active initiatives to enrol woman’s name on land patta (land document). Which means more and more indigenous women would be ensured of their right over their land.

Sonal Rathwa from North Gujrat shared a very interesting aspect. She said that there are about 29 different types of indigenous people in and around Gujarat. Some of them are now facing a huge threat of landlessness due to land encroachments. Thus the youth are compelled to go to other states as to work as labourers. On the other hand, there is the culture of ‘Bride Money’ among some communities. This means that the groom’s side has to pay a huge price to the bride’s family. This has resulted in a strange situation. Since the economic condition of the grooms are often very poor, once married, the groom often push the young brides towards flesh trade. They are often compelled to go into small time prostitutions to bring home money. This has also led to  sharp increase HIV patients in region. This has now resulted into a misconception that education for girls is a curse  because more educated the girl is, the higher the bride price they take  and thereafter worse becomes the condition of the newly-wed girl. These days domestic violence is also a regular feature due to drinking and less job opportunities .

Similarly the represntative from Odisha rued the fact that the indigenous communities were required to renew their caste certificates every six months – which is often a delayed process. This leads to missing out on several government aided privileges and support. This has a big negative impact on women.

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Overall the entire consultation was very important as it gave myriad of problems that indigenous women face all across the nation. Most of it is due to regressive social systems and traditional mind-sets. Like many women participants themselves were hesitant to believe that lack of rights for women over land or property was the violation of a basic human right. Women’s rights are often measured only in parameters like education or job opportunites and not rights as a whole. The entire programme was very well planned and gave a wonderful scope to exchange ideas.

(Reported by : Smita Kongari Mukherji – Convenor-Women’s Working Group- Swadhina)

(Photo Courtesy: AWN)

Workshop on Women’s Land Rights, Kolkata, India

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A Workshop on Women’s Land Rights was organised at Kolkata, India from 26-28 May 2017. The workshop was organised for 30 Grass-root level workers from field level. The workshop focussed on three objectives:

1) Understanding the Grass-root challenges related to Women’s Land Rights

2) Exchanging knowledge on different country-based initiatives taken on Women’s Land Rights

3) Building initiatives for grass-root level awareness building on the issue.

 

Representatives from four states of India attended the meet. The meet involved sharing of ideas, developing work-plan in small groups and exchanging ideas amongst groups.

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Here are what the participants shared on women’s land rights – positive, negative and mixed feelings highlighted the thoughts:

Ramhabala Srivastava, Motihari,Bihar“ Having worked in my area for song I realise that the awareness about women related laws is very limited. In such circumstances it becomes important that women at the basic level are made aware of such laws. And men should be a part of the process too”.

Rina Acharjee, Purulia, West Bengal: “ In my area women go out to work in the fields in the early morning hours because they grow vegetables mostly. And the vegetables need to be picked in the early hours of the day. The middle-men then come and procure the vegetables handing over the money to the women. But at that very moment the men-folk come and snatch away their money. This is my land, none of your business, they claim. And year after year, this cycle continues.”

Jashoda Mardi, Benasole, Jharkhand: “ I belong to an indigenous family. My mother-in-law has a huge property at her parents place. She has only one brother. But during a moment of crisis when she had gone and requested her brother to hand over a small portion of the property, she was refused. They said it was not right to ask for property as she was the girl of the house. She needed the land badly but she couldn’t pressurise because in our area it is very common to brand a woman who is going against the social norm as a witch. And she chose to kept quiet, rather than be branded as one”.

Nirmala Sahu, Betnoti, Odisha: “ I am a witness to the fact that women make best utilisation of the resources around themselves. Ours being a forest areas, forest is a vital resource for us. The Right to Forest Act empowers the local indigenous women to collect the forest resources without destroying the primary resource. So, our local women’s group collects Saal leaves to make Leaf Plate and Leaf Bowls which are bought by the businessmen from the city. We have made successful SHG groups and bought Leaf Plate and Bowl pressing machines. The women also keep money in bank. This has served a huge lesson to the society around”.

(Reported by: Srichandra For report details contact:ilc.womenportal@gmail.com/swadhina_org@yahoo.com)

Grass Root Meets on Women’s Land Rights, India

A series of grass-root level meets were organised to highlight the need to mobilise women to understand and claim land rights. Another objective of the meets was to share the different land-based initiatives taking place in other countries. These meets were organised as a part of CBI-4 initiative of International Land Coalition: Women’s Land Rights and Gender Justice. Following is a glimpse of the activities taking place in different states of India:

1)  Odisha

In the state of Odisha two Grass-root Meets have been organised in the villages of Bhrudabani and Mahulia – under the Mayurbhanj district.

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In Bhurudabani, the programme was organised on 10th of June 2017 from 2:15 pm to 6:30 pm. The day began with a rally of about 35 participants. Comprising of women and supported by local men, the rally highlighted the need to have Land Rights for Women-Now! Hand-made by the women themselves, the placards spoke what the women had never dared to speak earlier. As the women went through the village streets, more and more women, as well as men joined them. The meet then began at Bhurudabani Primary School with a total number of 57 participants. Mr. Sawna Murmu, a staff of the Revenue Inspector’s Office was present at the meet. Speaking on the issue he mentioned that it is a very common experience for him  to come across women who have been forcefully evicted out of her home and land because of her husband’s remarriage. He felt that the need to legally endorse marriages to stop the trend of remarriages – even in traditional set-up, is vital for women. Having heard about the Joint Land Ownership initiative of Nepal, he too felt that the need for joint ownership was vital for women to prevent social vices and land related complications. The women heartily took part in interactive discussion on the issue.

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In Mahuliya, the programme took place in the local Adivasi Community Centre . The programme here began with a procession too. As the women marched through the villages, shedding their inhibitions, it seemed a bold first step towards asking for something that was their own – their land, their property! A total of 47 participants attended the meet. Mr. Binod Murmu, Panchayat Samity Member, represented the local government. Mr. Sarat Tudu from local Land Revenue Office was present at the meet. Significantly, the local indigenous leader – the tribal head-man of the village Mr. Dakhin Murmu, was also present at the meet. The entire meet was conducted by social worker Ms.Nirmala Sahu. Mr.Binod Murmu said that he had been a witness to many land-related violence – mostly due to hurried sale of land by men to procure money for drinking or gambling. He felt that if women are equal owners of land, it would not be easy for men to sell the family land easily. This would control the sale of land to a large extent and the land related violence would reduce. Moreover, given in the hands of women, the productivity from land would also increase. It was interesting to note that breaking the traditionally patriarchal barrier, the Village Tribal Leader was vocal in favour of women. He said, “ Tribal women put in the maximum effort t when it comes to agriculture. It is they who do the maximum hard-work, But when the same land is sold or purchased no one takes the consent of a woman. Is this justice?”.

The village women participated whole-heartedly in the group discussions that followed, especially being vocal about their contribution towards agriculture.

2) Bihar

In the state of Bihar three grass-root meets have taken place so far. The first meet took place on 25th of June 2017 at Patrakar Bhavan, Motihari in Belbanwa district of Bihar. Around 35 participants took part in the meet. On behalf of the local government, Panchayat Ward representative Ms. Reeta Devi, former district co-ordinator of Nehru Yuva Kendra Mr.Rambabu Singh , Social Workers Ms.Putul Pathak and Ms. Rambhabala Srivastav  and advocate Ms. Putul Pathak were the chief Resource Persons.

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For the local women the meet was an enlightening process. Most of the women present had no idea that legally women can claim their share of land from their father or their husband. Advocate Putul Pathak asked women about their opinion regarding the issue of equal land rights. “How can we claim our rights? We are made to be dependent on our men folk”, answered one. Advocate Pathak used this very cue, “ You answer lies in your question. We have been ‘made to be dependent’. It is because we are conditioned to think that way”.  Ms. Reeta Devi highlighted the fact that the violation of land rights for women is ingrained in our system and the discrimination begins with the birth of a girl child.

The women found it very interesting to know how efforts were being made globally on women’s land rights. It was a realization for them that it was a collective cause which was being endorsed globally.

On 4th July 2017, a meet was organised in Rulahi village in East Champaran district. Attended by 45 particpants, this meet was held at Rulahi Primary School. Inaugurating the meet, former Principal of Rulahi High School, Mr. Subhash Chandra Das said that equal land rights for women was not just about equal rights, it was about equal opportunities too. When we are bestowing equal land rights, we are asking women to be equal participants in the process of development. Mrs. Madhavi Das from agricultural department said that it is a known fact that women contribute majorly to agriculture but it is unimaginable for the society to ensure equal land rights to them, She stressed on the fact that women farmers are much more able of handling their land and produce.  Discussing on the problems related to women’s land rights during group discussion, the women pointed out to the fact that in most cases a huge amount of dowry is given to the girl from her parents during marriage. So, it is taken for granted that she will not ask for her share of the property. As a result, women are compelled to accept domestic violence because they realize they cannot go back to their father’s house, nor can they have their own piece of land which they can use for their sustenance. So, one way to ensure equal land rights for women was to do away with a vice like dowry system.

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A similar meet was held at Patura village on 8th of July 2017. Attended by 35 participants, the event was graced by Malti Devi, social activist and moderated by Rambha Srivastav. Malti Devi said that the meet was crucial as it is the first time women are actually discussing about an issue that is considered taboo by the society – women asking for their land rights. The women present hailed the efforts taken in Nepal to promote Joint Land Ownership of women. They felt that Joint Entitlement of Land was one way to ensure their social as well as economic security. Some of the participants also spoke about the need to ensure that land related decision-making process also involves the active participation of women. ‘Having a right legally written on a paper is not enough, we must be heard too’, one of them demanded.

3) Jharkhand

At the tribal village of Surda in East Singbhum district of Jharkhand, a grass-root meet was organised on 9th of June 2017. Held at the local Tribal Community Centre of Lohia Bhawan, 41 rural participants attended the meet.

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Welcoming the participants, Supta Mukherji, founder of Swadhina, stressed that women’s land and property rights was crucial to women’s empowerment. Ms.Sudharani Besra, who is in charge of the Tribal Community Hall stressed on the need to ensure land rights for tribal women – even though the customary law was not pro-women. She felt that tribal women were much ahead in terms of education and they need to raise their voice and demand for land rights for themselves. Leader of local government, the Panchayat head, Ms. Surkurmoni Hembram said that participation of women in local level governance was crucial in order to introduce policies that would support women’s land ownership.Ms. Smriti Srakar facilitated the group studies on initiatives in Nepal and Bangladesh towards women’s land rights.

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On 11th of June 2016 a seminar on women’s land rights was organised at Little Angel School, Ghatsila, East Singbhum. 42 participants took part in this meet. Led by Tribal Rights Activist, Ms. Supriti Murmu, the meet focussed on the initiative by the Jharkhand government to provide registration free of cost to land registered in the name of women. Ms. Murmu said that such initiatives were needed to introduce a positive social change. She highlighted the fact that tribal women face a lot of discrimination when it comes to land laws. Endorsing her views, the participants felt that it was necessary to bring in positive laws and policies that would enforce land rights of women. The benefits of pro-women policies like the free land registration in the name of women was highlighted and was well covered by the media representatives present at the meet. The purpose of the Commitment Based Initiative as a common platform for women’s land rights was also highlighted during the meet.

(Reported by: Swadhina members – Nirmala Sahu, Deepak Srivastav, Smriti Sarkar)

A BRIEFING NOTE ON THE ALTERNATIVE REPORT OF THE CIVIL SOCIETY ON THE CEDAW

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Submitted to the “Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women”

Email: alrd@agni.com; rowshanmoni@alrd.org

 CEDAW and Bangladesh

Bangladesh ratified CEDAW in 1984 with reservation to the Article 2 and the Article 16(1)(c),stating the following, “The Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh does not consider as binding upon itself the provisions of article 2, [… and …] 16 (1) (c) as they conflict with  Sharia law based on Holy Quran and Sunna”. Subsequently, Bangladesh also ratified the Optional Protocol to CEDAW in 2000 with reservations on the Articles 8 and 9.

Alternative Report of the Civil Society on the CEDAW

This report issubmitted to the “UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women” by a coalition of 4 International Land Coalition-ILC members, all well-known civil society organizations in Bangladesh on the issue of land rights, agrarian reforms, rights of the indigenous peoples and gender justice;

(1)    Association for Land Reforms and Development (ALRD),

(2)    Association for the Realization of Basic Needs (ARBAN),

(3)    Community Development Association (CDA) and

(4)    Kapaeeng Foundation (KF).

ALRD represents 220 CSOs across Bangladesh. The 3 other sponsor organizations are equally well-known civil society organizations in Bangladesh.

The report only covers select articles of CEDAW; Articles 3, Article 5, Article 7, Article 13, Article 14 and Article 15. This particular focus on select articles is made in view of the organizational focus and mandates of ILC, the lead organization ALRD and the 3 other ILC members in Bangladesh.

Observations on Bangladesh’s Ratification:

In many ways, the two articles of CEDAW that Bangladesh is yet to ratify contain the core message CEDAW. Both articles stipulate for equality between men and women before law and as regards family and civil matters, equality in marriage and its dissolution, and in inheritance, etc. The article 2 also asks for conforming the national constitutions and laws to the provisions of CEDAW in the case of difference between the two.

Bangladesh abstained from ratification of these 2 articles under the pretext of religious traditions. But is it a tenable and justifiable pretext?Undoubtedly, the religious orthodoxy, in particular Islamic religious orthodoxy, remains strong in Bangladesh. But the arguments made by Bangladesh may be open to further debate as to what exactly amounts to “conflict with Sharia law based on Holy Quran and Sunna”. The issue seems all the more relevant given the recent recommendation of the Law Commission to the Government to ratify both the articles. A similar case also can be made for the ratification of the articles 8 and 9 of the Optional Protocol to CEDAW.

Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world with apopulation of 160 million in a territory comprising 155,000 kilometers. The population is overwhelmingly homogenouswith a tiny minority who claim to be recognized as ‘indigenous peoples’. Itis an overwhelmingly agrarian economy. Women in recent years, however, are assuming increased responsibility for the households and in agriculture. This is, although, putting them into a more a vulnerable situation as theyoften are denied of ownershiptitle deeds of land in their name.

The Constitution of Bangladesh stipulates equality before law of its citizens and bans all discriminations based on gender, caste and creed (Article 28). Other articles recognizes equality of all citizens before law, guarantees to all citizens have the freedom of thought, conscience and speech and to undertake measures to remove inequality betweenwomen and men. However, the family laws in Bangladesh that principally deal with the issue of the rights of the women in Bangladesh is very much discriminatory to the women. This cuts across religions and ethnicity; Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and indigenous peoples. Similarly, the plethora of policies on socio-economic development are largely indifferent to the issue of the rights of the women. Some policies such as the National Khas Land Management andSettlement Policy in 1997include clause stating that only women with able bodied son will receive khas land from the government!

The recommendations below are thus made in order for Bangladesh to fulfill wholly its commitment to CEDAW and its constitutional obligations;

1.Bangladesh should make immediate steps for the ratification of the remaining two articles of CEDAW. Along with, it should equally take similar steps for the ratification of the Articles 8 and 9of the Optional Protocol the two articles that it is yet ratify.

2.Subsequently, Bangladesh should take immediate steps to change the family laws recognizing the equal rights of the women of all religious groups and to this end, to adopt a time-bound plan of action for a ‘uniform civil code’ for all the religious and ethnic communities on the basis of the principles of CEDAW.

3.Bangladesh should take immediate measures to invite the CEDAW Committee to investigate and provide recommendations on the state of the rights of women in Bangladesh.

4.Bangladesh also should initiate measures for full ratification of the other UN human rights treaties, conventions and declarations.

5.The Government of Bangladesh should seek revisions of the existing development policies in a time-bound framework in partnership with the civil society and women representatives to incorporate the vision for realization of equal rights between men and women.

6.Bangladesh should immediately undertake a capacity building programme of the concerned government agencies and officials on CEDAW.

7.The Government of Bangladesh should initiate immediate revision of the concerned laws and policies with a time-bound frame to give proper recognition to the women as ‘farmer’ for their role in promoting and sustaining agricultural productions in the country.

8.The revision of policies should be accompanied with commensurate actions comprising of relevant programmes.

9.The Government of Bangladesh should immediately initiate more pro-active actions for inclusion of the marginalized peoples, groups and communities, including the indigenous peoples and indigenous women in its development plans and programmes.

10.While revising the existing policies or adopting new laws and policies, the Government of Bangladesh should make these culturally appropriate and sensitive to the vulnerable socio-economic and political conditions of the marginalized communities, in particular the indigenous peoples. In this regard, the Government of Bangladesh may draw relevant guidance from various international guidelines and policies including the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of FAO.

To read the complete report click on the following:

ALRD CEDAW Report

 

JOINT OWNERSHIP OF LAND : STRENGTHENING WOMEN’S LAND RIGHTS IN NEPAL

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Photo Source: http://www.csrcnepal.org/pages/details/campaign/womenlandrightscampaign

Joint Ownership of Land

Under the formal law, women in Nepal can access land through inheritance, land purchase, leaseholds, and government land allocations. The 2007 Interim Constitution states that all Nepali citizens are equal under the law and forbids gender-based discrimination. The Interim Constitution states that daughters and sons have equal rights to inherit ancestral property, and the constitutional mandate of equality takes precedence over inconsistent traditions, custom, and practices (GON Interim Constitution 2007).

In Nepal, only 19.71% women have land ownership. Deprivation of land rights is synonymous with  poverty and denial of rights. During the program and budget of 2010/11, Government of Nepal  made provision to wave registration fees while transferring entitlement to women. As a result, this will increase women’s ownership in land.

 Policy announcement on women’s access to land

Over time, a number of women led land rights campaigns have brought about important changes at national policy level. In a patriarchal country like Nepal, access to land is fundamental to women’s empowerment. Land rights bring about security, independence and confidence, which will  enable women to become active in all social and political arenas. The National Movement for Timely Constitution Writing and Land Reform saw of more than 1,000 poor women (and more than 100 men) from 50 districts descending upon Kathmandu. This historic event saw working women raising their concerns directly with members of the various political parties. The major outcomes of the national mobilization were as follows;

  •   It has been agreed that both the husband and wife would have joint ownership of land provided by the state and a policy announcement has been made which makes it easier for women to be granted joint ownership of their husband’s land.
  •   The Government of Nepal directed the implementation of the joint ownership certificate of land which was announced in the budget speech of 2011/12. Each district has already developed a campaign plan in respect of joint ownership. The issue of joint ownership is also included in the ToR of the Landless Problem Solving Commission.
  •   The cost to the wife of effecting this transfer of ownership is a tax of 100 NPR. In addition a 40% discount in the land registration fee will be granted to village women living in remote areas.
  •   There is a general agreement, from government level downwards, that work will continue to be undertaken over the coming years.

 Second National Conference of Women Farmers

The Second National Conference of Farmer Women was held from 3-5 March, 2013 at Thimura, Chitwan with the participation of 162 women from 48 districts of Nepal. The conference was organized with focused discussion on ‘Women’s Land Ownership and Identity‘. The conference well speculated  women’s issues by announcing the action point. The conference was successful in raising the voice of land poor and women farmer in the domain of ensuring equal land rights. The program was jointly organized by National Land Rights Forum (NLRF) and Community Self-reliance Center (CSRC).

 Third National Conference of Women Farmers 

Organized with the slogan, Land ownership for women farmers’ identity and self esteem’, the third national women’s conference was organized at Thimura, Chitwan on 17th- 18th Mangsir, 2071. Ninety three participants were present in the conference. The major objective of the conference was to establish it as a platform to raise voice against the injustice and discrimination prevailing against women. Women farmers shared their sufferings and challenges through stories. In addition, alternatives were discussed for increasing the identity of women farmers. Discussion was also carried out on the positive changes that occur when women’s land rights are established, how an individual, family, community and nation benefits when women get proper land rights. Further, the importance of joint land ownership was also discussed along with the challenges faced in the campaign. Joint land ownership is associated with gender equality. Awareness is required as the word farmer has always been associated men. A thoughtful debate is required in this issue and hence, the support of men is also required to establish women’s rights. Hence, participation of men was also included in the program.

( To read a detailed report, click the link: https://ilcasia.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/impact-study-of-jlo-and-wle-cds-2.pdf)

Farmer’s Handbook: A Guide to Government schemes on Agriculture in India

Department of Agriculture Cooperation & Farmer’s Welfare under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer’s Welfare , Government of India has launched ‘A Farmer Friendly Handbook for Schemes & Programmes 2017-18’. The 200 page handbook is a guide to the different schemes & programmes launched and implemented by Department of Agriculture Cooperation & Farmer’s Welfare through the different State Governments. The striking aspect of the handbook is the way it is arranged as per themes related to agriculture.  So rather than clubbing the schemes together, the book has dealt with 12 specific themes related to agriculture: 1. Agricultural Insurance 2. Soil Health & Conservation (including micronutrients) 3. Irrigation 4. Agricultural Marketing 5. Organic Farming 6. Horticulture 7. Seeds 8.Mechanization & Technology 9. Training & Extension for Farmers 10. Agricultural Credit 11. Plant Protection 12. Sustainable Agriculture.

The Handbook gives a very comprehensive idea about each scheme, including providing guidance on how and where it can be accessed.

The handbook is in dual languages : English and Hindi, thus being beneficial to many.

A copy of this handbook is important for every Women Farmer’s Group and every woman farmer , because there are many schemes and subsidies available for women involved in agriculture. Having access to the schemes, women farmers can improve their produce and productivity, function as independent agro-marketing groups and endorse their right over cultivation.

NGOs/CBOs, working for women farmers can access this handbook and provide selective information to the local women’s groups as per the need of the group.

For details CLICK the below

Farmer Friendly Handbook

A SMALL PLOT- A BIG LEAP

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This is a story of how a small plot of land can be instrumental in changing the lives of local women – strengthening her rights over her land, her living. This was a small programme, implemented for a group of 22 women in the working villages of Swadhina, India.

The programme was carried out in two remote villages of East Singbhum ,Jharkhand, in India, with support of SARRA- a member organisation of ILC, under the aegis of the National Engagement Strategy programmes of International Land Coalition between August 2015 to March 2016.

One of the main components of the programme was to develop kitchen gardens (called FAITH gardens) to ensure:

  1. Right to land and livelihood for women.
  2. Using land judiciously for livelihood as well as for providing nutrition to the family.

This was like a test-water case – an effort to gauge the mentality of the society in general towards women’s ownership of land plots.

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Following a Training of Trainers, organised by SARRA and training for the selected beneficiaries, the Kitchen Gardens were developed. Though it would sound an easy task, it was extremely daunting , mostly because it is unheard of in the area that women could be owners of land – however small the plot may be.

Swadhina has been intensely engaged in sensitization programmes in the area for promoting women’s land rights. And it was much helpful for the women to convince their families to allot a piece of land for them.

Following this, sample maps were drawn to help the beneficiaries understand the position and space allotted for seed bed, fencing, open space to facilitate watering etc.

The training and a proto-type map of individual gardens, helped the women to mark out the seed beds/sapling area. They then went on to prepare the seed bed as per the training they received. Each of the Kitchen Garden were fenced with Bamboo pieces as pillars. Strong wire mesh-nets were used to reinforce the fencing.  Not only was it interesting to see how the women came forward to engage themselves in activities ‘supposedly done by men’, it was equally interesting to see how the men of the families came forward to support their wives or daughters-in-law.

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Over time the gardens became fully functional kitchen garden, filled with vegetables of high nutritional quality.

Recently during a visit by the Swadhina team, the women came forward to offer fresh grown vegetables – pumpkin, brinjal, red spinach from their ‘own’ garden, as a mark of gratitude for having helped them gain a new identity.

The small plot of land was a big leap for the local women in establishing their rights:

1) It helped establish the fact that woman DO have the right to own a piece of family land – however small or big.

2)It gave a scope to the families to be a part of the process of women’s right and access to land.

3)The gardens provided a source of direct nutrition to the women and their families.

4)Being located in the vicinity and in the control of women, these gardens ensured food security for the families.

5) Being nurtured by women, these gardens established the identity of women as able farmers.

To know more about the initiative, write to: swadhina_org@yahoo.com/mainoffice.swadhina@gmail.com

 

Women2Kilimanjaro: An African saga of success of Women’s Land Rights movement

Africa

Photo Courtesy: http://www.landcoalition.org/en/regions/africa/

           

What began as an idea in 2012, took shape in 2016 and then finally culminated into a success story in 2017. The story of African Women’s Movement demanding rights over Land and Natural Resources is one of grit, determination and a conglomerated effort of the African Women to obtain what is rightfully theirs!

The Kilimanjaro Initiative was an idea born during a meeting of rural women and civil society organisations in 2012, held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. It was an idea to mobilize women, especially rural women, all over the African continent to build a dialogue around the issues of rights over their land and natural resources. Mount Kilimanjaro thus became a symbolism of determination of women to scale any heights to reach at the top – their goals.

The objectives were :

– To strengthen the agency and movement of rural women in claiming and defending their land and natural resource rights in Africa

-To engender political will amongst national governments, donor and regional institutions to implement an all-inclusive African women’s charter.

– To mobilise and support the participation of 100,000 rural women in the Kilimanjaro initiative in at least 20 countries in Africa

-To raise awareness on existing frameworks and safeguards a round Large scale land based investments and demand for their application in securing legitimate tenure rights of rural women in Africa

This idea led to the Women2Kilimanjaro initiative where thousands of women from all the four regions of Africa –East, West, North, South gathered at the feet of Mount Kilimanjaro – culminating in a mass African rural women’s assembly and a symbolic ascent by a delegation of women on Mount Kilimanjaro in the month of October 2016.

The world watched in awe, as amidst all the singing, dancing and rejoicing, shone one strong demand: Women’s Land Rights – NOW!!

The mass assembly of rural women led to the adoption of a Charter of Demands. It contained a set of 15 specific demands addressing issues related to women’s access to use, control, own, inherit and dispose of their land and natural resources.

The initiative was crucial to women’s land rights movement because for the first time in the world women’s land rights was taken up as a singular cause – irrespective of the area, region, cultural background – it was a single demand of the women from the entire African continent.

It was not about a demand alone – it was a question about giving women, especially rural women, their due dignity and respect for the immense contribution they make towards land and natural resources. It became a quest for gender justice!

Being widely covered by the media and social media alike – the initiative drew the attention of policy-makers, those in government, those involved in land rights movements. For the first time the voice of women farmers were being heard and taken notice of!

But this isn’t the end of the story. The movement perhaps reached its peak moment when the 9th Annual African Union Gender Pre-Summit held in Addis Abba from 22nd to 27thJanuary 2017 officially endorsed the charter of demands initiated from the mass assembly of rural women. It was a huge success for the initiative because it was an endorsement and acknowledgement of African Union about the need to ensure gender justice in terms rights over land and natural resources.

In the words of Kafui Adjamagbo-Johnson, the Director of Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF), “The fact that the African Union (AU) is informed and now acknowledges the position of rural women, we can now expect them to give more attention to the issues.It sets in place strategies and mechanisms to fulfil equal land rights for women and respond to various discriminations and violations faced by women in their family and community.”

The Women2Kilimanjaro or The Kilimanjaro Initiative can be termed as a very successful experiment in women’s land rights initiatives. There were several reasons for that:

* It chose a symbol that was a common pride to all African Nations- Mount Kilimanjaro.

* It amalgamated the issues of women farmers and land rights activists as a single cause raised through many voices.

* It effectively used the symbolism of scaling the peak of a mountain to depct the grit and determination to reach a common goal. The hike being also undertaken by many common women, it rang out a clear message that with women nothing is impossible.

* . Irrespective of different regions involved, it managed to raise a single collective charter of demands and the demands were raised by the rural women themselves.

* It helped build a network among different CSOs, NGOs and activists – bringing them to a single cause.

* It used the power of social media effectively to reach out to the people all over the world- letting the world lend an ear to their demands.

* It effectively interwove the elements of local African culture of song, dance, music into the serious discussions. And simultaneously built in a sense of adventurism through the idea of a mountain hike. This introduced a spirit of festivity along with some serious thoughts.

This initiative would go down into the history of women’s land rights movements as a very effective idea of introducing a social, cultural and economic change – atleast in the thought process with a long term and effective planning!

Here is an interesting video-link to the event of Women2Kilimanjaro:

https://youtu.be/-eaBiozBJfc

(Sources: http://www.landcoalition.org/en/regions/africa/news/

http://www.actionaid.org/sites/files/actionaid/kilimanjaro_bronchure.pdf)