Women travel 11,000 km to press for land rights

Four women activists travelled 11,000 km criss-crossing 12 states in 45 days for mobilising support for land rights for women and highlight issues of agrarian distress. Reuters file photo for representation

Four women activists travelled 11,000 km criss-crossing 12 states in 45 days for mobilising support for land rights for women and highlight issues of agrarian distress.

The Mahila Bhoomi Samwad Yatra (women's land dialogue tour) was flagged off from Thiruvananthapuram and culminated at Morena in Madhya Pradesh last week with a march by over 25,000 landless and homeless persons pressing for five demands, including the National Right to Homestead Act.

The Yatra was to culminate in Delhi, but Ekta Parishad leader P V Rajagopal decided to end it in Morena after receiving assurances from BJP President Amit Shah and Congress President Rahul Gandhi on their demands.

The Ekta Parishad had put forth five demands, including the passage of the National Right to Homestead Act, National Land Reforms Policy, Women Farmers' Entitlement Act, setting up of land tribunals and fast-track courts to resolve land cases and time-bound implementation of the Forest Rights Act.

Sharing her experience during the journey through 11 states, Shraddha Kashyap recalled how she learned that in Kerala, in spite of its high levels of education, women faced the same structural violence as elsewhere in the country.

In Tamil Nadu, Kashyap said she witnessed high levels of malnutrition in some pockets and women agricultural labourers could not think of themselves as farmers contributing to the surplus food production in the country.

Homestead bill

Pressing the demand for Homestead Bill, she said it would ensure that “every shelterless poor family has a right to hold homestead of not less than 10 cents…within a period of 10 years commencing from the date of notification”.

“The Women and Farmers Bill has a provision to allow women to receive financial support for agricultural activities. It holds good only when women farmers have an entitlement to land,” Rajagopal said.

He said women need to negotiate bank loans, interact with those in the mandi panchayats or gain membership in farmer and producer organisations; a law would ensure land rights for women.

“Women who gain land ownership and have their own name on the land titles faceless violence,” Manju Dungdung, a member of the group, said.

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Women travel 11,000 km to press for land rights

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