In a small village near Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India women farmers are cultivating their farmland by planting indigenous seeds like millets
Around 63 farmers are committed to plant a variety of paddy, millets and vegetables like okra, chillies and aubergines using locally-produced bio-fertilizers and pesticides. With growing awareness of indigenous seeds and their economical value, women farmers in Gujarat are now motivated to rejuvenate their land with a new variety of seeds. In times of extreme weather and climate change, gaining new knowledge about climate-resilience crops like millets is crucial for women and smallholder farmers.
ILC Asia members the Working Group of Women for Land Ownership (WGWLO), Social Development Foundation (SDF) and South Asia Rural Reconstruction Association (SARRA) are working in tandem to promote women's land ownership and to implement awareness and action around women's inheritance rights to agriculture land. Joined together in Land Forum India, our members are working at the grassroots level to advance women’s land rights in a deeply rooted patriarchal society that hampers women’s access to land.
Aside from the planting programme, our members help undertake a community mapping on the status of women’s ownership over their family farm in the hopes that daughters, wives, widows and single women are more encouraged to gain access to their land. This includes mapping of public land owned by village-level government and who has access to it.
WGWLO has also recently held a community paralegal programme with women land rights and forest rights defenders in Gujarat, India. Through community-level campaign, women members of the long-defunct Forest Rights Committee - an inclusive body that helps facilitate forest dwellers to file a claim for a land title - are coming together to revive their historic relationship with forests and learn about their rights to the forest and resources. These community paralegals will provide legal assistance to women who wish to claim land titles and their inheritance rights.
Though structural challenges that women face in acquiring their land are still prevalent, like how women are often excluded from decision-making processes over their land, women farmers remain optimistic to work with our members and further secure their rights.
*Story written by NES India - Land Forum India and edited by ILC Asia. Photo credit: Land Forum India