Rethinking Empowerment: Gender and Development in a Global/Local World

By Jane L. Parpart; Shirin M. Rai et al. | Go to book overview

9
Gender, production and access to land
The case for female peasants in India
Reena Patel

Introduction

The land goes to the men simply because they are men. Whether the son wants to cultivate the land or leave it fallow, he will still have the right over that land.

It would be futile … for a daughter to expect a share, for no matter how much one does, for as long as there is a son, parents will never give their land to a daughter.

(Responses from women in the field, Orissa)

Land rights for women in India, particularly within the rural context, are crucial for women's empowerment for several reasons. First, the overwhelming dependence on agriculture for survival makes land the most crucial resource for all who depend upon it. Land ownership is vital to overcome dependence upon others for survival and subsistence needs. Second, the absence of a social security net (Guhan 1992) makes land ownership for women even more important for their economic empowerment. Third, land has significant socio-political implications, where its possession leads to power and prestige (Basu 1990). Thus, access to and control over land is vital for women's survival and empowerment in rural India.

This chapter analyses two separate legal regimes that establish women's rights over property in India – the Hindu Succession Act 1956 and the Orissa Land Reforms Act 1960. Focusing on Hindu peasant women, the discussion highlights the way these regimes together perpetuate women's exclusion from property rights. A deeper, critical evaluation of the law establishing Hindu women's equal property rights through succession and inheritance reveals that, although based upon liberal values of equality and fairness, it reinforces the religious/cultural ideology underpinning their traditional exclusion from land ownership. Land reform legislations, which explicitly seek to redistribute agricultural land and confer ownership based on the value of work, and the category of workers as male, furthers this exclusion. The chapter discusses the impact of these twin regimes on prospects for land ownership by Hindu peasant woman working on small/family-owned farms, and concludes that the regimes promote their exclusion as Hindu women both on the basis of succession and inheritance, and as workers.

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Rethinking Empowerment: Gender and Development in a Global/Local World
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Routledge/Warwick Studies in Globalisation ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Contributors xi
  • Acknowledgements xv
  • Abbreviations xvii
  • Part I - Theory and Praxis 1
  • 1 - An Introduction 3
  • References 18
  • 2 - Education as a Means for Empowering Women 22
  • References 36
  • Part II - Women's Empowerment in a Global World 39
  • 3 - The Janus Effect 41
  • Notes 57
  • References 58
  • 4 - Toward Empowerment 61
  • Notes 75
  • References 76
  • 5 - Rethinking Technoagency 79
  • References 92
  • Part III - The Nation State, Politics and Women's Empowerment 95
  • 6 - Beyond Official Empowerment Discourse 97
  • References 110
  • 7 - Women's Mobilization in Chile and Turkey 112
  • Notes 127
  • References 129
  • 8 - The Quota Debate in India 133
  • References 145
  • 9 - The Case for Female Peasants in India 147
  • Notes 158
  • References 159
  • Part IV - The Local/Global, Development and Women's Empowerment 163
  • 10 - The Pra Approach 165
  • References 178
  • 11 - Examples from Kenya and Cameroon 182
  • References 197
  • 12 - Depoliticizing Empowerment in a Tanzanian Family Planning Project 199
  • Notes 213
  • References 215
  • 13 - Informal Politics, Grassroots Ngos and Women's Empowerment in the Slums of Bombay 218
  • Notes 232
  • References 234
  • Part V - Conclusion 237
  • 14 - Concluding Thoughts on (em)powerment, Gender and Development 239
  • Index 245
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