Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
06-05: Ensuring Land Policy's Contribution to Gender Equality
Wednesday, 22/Mar/2017:
10:30am - 12:00pm

Session Chair: Vinodh Jaichand, Independent, South Africa
Location: J 1-050

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The Policy Response to Women’s Entitlement to Land: Implementation Gradualism in the Limits of Social Norms

Govind Kelkar, Shipra Deo

Landesa, India, India

An analysis of land reforms policies in India shows that the state agencies speak simultaneously to two groups: the political elite nurtured with gendered forms of power who exercise power through access to political and economic institutions, and the political constituency of organized rural women and men who wield influence through the voting right. The contradictory power base of these two groups tends to result in implementation gradualism wrapped in the limits of social norms. The objective of this study is to locate the process of gender-responsive land reform policies in India. Secondary sources provide a background and explanation of observations in the fieldwork conducted in states Karnataka, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh.

The research findings suggest that, as a consequence of the continued demand for women’s entitlement to land, there have been some partial and fitful changes in policies and enactment of laws in India. Those women who had acquired entitlement to land had gained greater social status, increased bargaining power over household assets, experienced a reduction in gender-based violence. A broad conclusion is that the power of gendered norms diminishes in response to women’s claims for an independent access to ownership rights to land and productive assets.


Gender Equality - Goal or Tool?

Kent Johan Ronny Nilsson1, Maria Lodin2

1Lantmäteriet, Sweden (The Swedish Mapping, Cadastral and Land Registration Authority); 2Kartverket, Norway (The Norwegian Mapping Authority)

Efficient management of land, forests and natural resources is recognized as being a vital ingredient in combatting poverty, climate change and improve sustainable economic and environmental development in a country. In addition, it is an extremely powerful tool that can be used to secure rights, ownership and access for indigenous people, poor and other vulnerable people. This powerful tool can if misused be a severe hinder for sustainable development, democracy and gender equality.

In some land administration projects, gender equality is being used as a goal in itself, something that can be easily measured; resulting in inadequate activates and measures. In many cases switching perspective and using gender equality as a tool to achieve results, e.g. increased capacity within a government land administration organization enabling more transparent, efficient and reliable service to the citizens is a more appropriate way. In the global challenge, striving towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, gender equity has the potential of being the most powerful tool of them all.


Political Economy of Land Governance and Women’s Empowerment – The Case of Meghalaya

Sanjukta Roy

The World Bank, India

This paper delves into the complex dynamics between traditional and formal institutions affecting land rights in the tribal state of Meghalaya and its repercussions on gender equity. The state is unique in its long established matrilineal background where traditional customs defines property rights. In terms of inheritance tradition, it is the daughter of the family who is responsible for “management” of family land for productive purpose. She, however, has no decision making rights over the same. With the state government bringing in modern instruments of land governance, significant social changes are being felt in the changing nature of land relations. The modern instruments are enabling increased commodification of community land with increased incidences of sale of community land to private individuals. Moreover, since women are traditionally excluded from any representation in local governance – this absence of decision making power is increasingly being reinforced at the wake of the changing land dynamics. This is leading to more women not just not owning land any more, but also becoming bereft of any power to have control over the same. This paper looks into the evolution of the nature of land ownership and governance and its implication on women’s status, in the state.


Claiming And Realizing Right To Land: Can Development Organizations Address The Gender Disparities In Bangladesh?

Ferdous Jahan1, Sharif Wahab2

1University of Dhaka, Bangladesh; 2Ohio University, USA

Right to own property is an important component of the social contract upon which a modern state is established. The laws of inheritance vary from religion to religion in Bangladesh context. Principles of distributing the property of inheritance are deeply connected with patriarchal belief, cultural pattern, history and traditions. Consequently, women in Bangladesh, in most instances are the victims of unequal distribution of land as property. BRAC, as the largest NGO of the world has been addressing multiple human-rights based issues through development programs for more than four decades. BRAC’s Human Right and Legal Aid Service (HRLS) program under the ‘Property Rights Initiative (PRI)’ aims to address the right to land problem by ensuring access to property rights for poor and vulnerable people, particularly women. This paper aims to respond: How effective is development organization's targeted intervention for women in claiming and realizing their 'right to land? This paper presents the findings of an impact assessment carried out on the project. The paper concludes although the project is addressing the practical needs of women by raising awareness, the strategic gender need has yet to be achieved.


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