Landless women: only 12.9% of Indian women own agricultural land
Look carefully. Do you see a woman among the farmers protesting? The reason is simple: women hardly own any farmland.
Lakshadweep and Meghalaya are the best among the 35 states and union territories for providing land rights to women; Punjab and West Bengal are the worst, according to an index created by the Bhubaneswar-based Center for Land Governance, a branch of consultancy firm NR Management Consultants.
The index was prepared using data on female-operated holdings from the 2011 Census of Agriculture, the share of adult women owning agricultural land from the 2011-12 Indian Human Development Survey, the share of female-headed households owning land from the 2011 socioeconomic census of castes, and the share of women owning a house and / or land (alone or jointly) from the National Family Health Survey from 2015-16.
The index ranks states in terms of women holding land rights in percentage points. On average, 12.9% of Indian women own land.
In the southern states, 15.4% of women own land and in the northeast, 14.1%. Despite such low numbers, these states outperform the northern states (9.8%) and eastern states (9.2%).
Secure and impartial land rights for women are essential for a country to achieve sustainable development goals, such as eradicating poverty and achieving gender equality.
The government had professed the intention to give joint titles to men and women while distributing land and residential land since the Sixth Five-Year Plan (1980-85).
But, the data shows a poor track record. Women make up one-third (32%) of India’s agricultural workforce and contribute 55-66% of agricultural production, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. Yet they only hold 12.8% of operational assets in India, according to the Center for Land Governance index.