A look at the PROPERTY RIGHTS of Women
“EQUALITY”, the moment we hear this word, a clear division between men and women is visible. India, a country which boasts of such a vast diversity in terms of caste, religion, colour…..etc fails to realize that it is slowly and gradually losing its stand on the most controversial issue. If we talk specifically of figures, According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN (FAO), women account for only 9.5 percent of land-holders. Their figures drew on the agricultural census of 2000 and 2001, which found just 12 million women owned land, out of 120 million landholders. So, now , what you have to say on this??!!! Its just easy to just have a look at the statement than to actually think about the figures of 12 million on one side and 120 million on the other. Leaving aside the various parameters which may dictate whether you can own your house or not, there is one more dimension over which you have no control i.e your gender. If you are born as a man, you just need to relax as it’s pretty sure that you will be going to be gifted with ancestral properties, but if this is not the case ( i.e you are born as a women), then just sit down and watch the dust slipping out of your hands. And this is not a joke. This non access to land rights is not just about the status of women in our society. In this fast developing world, where now nearly 80% of rural women labor in the fields, they still continue to struggle to inherit land from their families. This has an implication not only on the status and condition of women in our society, but also fundamental to India’s rural development on a no of factors: lack of titled land prevents them from accessing a number of further benefits they should be able to enjoy, such as access to institutional credit, bank loans, and federal agricultural benefits that can help them out of poverty Nor can they take advantage of agricultural extension programs, such as government offers of subsidized seeds and fertilizers. All of this stymies agricultural development. However, it must be worthy to note here that the series of measures taken till today in India by the government and public to ensure equal rights for everyone in the society has so far do helped a lot in improving the status of women in our society, including the most recently amended ‘ HINDU SUCCESSION ACT OF 1956‘ which aims to address gender inequalities in the area of inheritance, thus giving the daughters the same share as is allotted to a son, where she has a right to claim partition in the joint family properties as well as the right to claim right of partition in the dwelling house of the joint family and she shall also have a right to claim partition during the lifetime of her father. But still today rural women in India remain largely unable to inherit the land on which they depend.
Now the question arises, why so?? In a country, where the solution of every problem is left to law, then why not such a recourse helped improved the rights of women.? The, i think we need to better understand the Indian tradition to get hold of this question. Indian women, by nature are very submissive and fearful who believe that asking for their share might boil up conflicts in the family. Even a large proportion of men too believe it to be wrong on the part of women to inherit their parent’s land. So, what we need today is not just a bunch of papers with newer laws and regulations, but we also require awareness.Women need to know their rights. Families, communities, and authorities need to be aware of and support those rights, and women need to be able to exercise their rights without alienating their family members. When the constitution of India and the laws newly enacted are in favor of giving equal status to the women, the women are interested in claiming lesser than what they are entitled for. So, witnessing the linkage between gender inequality and economic impacts, it has become important to understand such problems, and most importantly, on the part of women to actually participate and not just let off moving the situation in the way it is heading towards. ———— About the Author: This article has been contributed by Muskan Arora, our intern.