Special Correspondent

Bangalore: The 11th Plan has incorporated housing and land rights for women as a component, but the challenge lies in ensuring its implementation at the grassroots level, said economist Devaki Jain.

Speaking at a seminar on “Land and Housing Rights for Women” organised by the Indo-Global Social Service Society here on Monday, Ms. Jain said that the sub-group on gender and agriculture had established a link between gender equality in land rights and agricultural growth, leading to its inclusion in the Plan.

The more important question, however, was how alienation from land and the resultant migration could push people to become slum-dwellers on the peripheries of big cities. Women in such situation often had no option but to become domestic workers or sex workers, she said.

Policies of States such as allotting large tracts of land to SEZs was pushing more and more women into such a situation, she said and underlined the need to link the question of women’s rights to the macro-economic policy.

A.R. Vasavi, Dean of the National Institute of Advanced Studies, took the argument by situating the women’s land rights issue on the broad canvas of Green Revolution of the seventies and the economic liberation of the post-Nineties.

She said that India had never resolved the interlinked questions of land distribution, caste hierarchy and gender discrimination.

The Green Revolution had overlooked comprehensive development by focusing on productivity.

In the post-economic globalisation scenario, it was important to look at the question of ownership of land along with market taking over agriculture and the Government receding from it.

While the land was increasingly becoming a commodity for tourism, mining and SEZs, the land issue itself was getting marginalised, she said.

It was important to place the women’s question within the larger one of land reforms and demand for structural changes that allow access to health and education.