Friday, February 11, 2011

Women as land owners in Bihar

Economic empowerment improves social status

Sopan Correspondent / Patna

Nearly 30,000 women are part of a silent revolution in Bihar wherein they have become the proud owners of land in the state where they had no say earlier. They belong to some of the poorest sections of society and the initiative of the state government has meant tremendous empowerment to them.

As per the figures, Bihar government has distributed over 14,000 acres of land among the poor and landless women in the last three years. An official said that the state government has distributed 14,722.22 acres of land in the last three years (2007 to 2010). For the first time, land ownership rights of the bhoodan lands were being given to women.

Last year, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had announced that the state government will provide land ownership rights to women from landless families. Several other women friendly schemes like reservation of 50 per cent for them in the three-tier panchayat system, providing cycles to the girl students of the senior classes in schools etc have gone down rather well with the women of the state in the recent past. They returned the favour by voting for the incumbent government in the Assembly elections with an overwhelming majority.

The government has also reserved 50 percent of teaching vacancies in government-run primary and secondary schools for women, giving them an edge and economic empowerment. In districts like Gaya, Nalanda, Arrah, Buxar, Madhubani etc the women owning around half acre of land each supplement their income from the farm produce.

The picture is similar almost everywhere in the state where the women supplement their family income from the land which the state has given to them and provide a new meaning to their life. And with the economic independence, however marginal, they are also seeing an improved social status, and are respected both by their families and their communities. Bihar Bhoodan Yagna Committee president Shubham Murti said distribution of bhoodan land among women had been made possible by the positive approach of the government. The land distribution programme is one of the Bihar government's many women empowerment initiatives. Officials say more such schemes are in the pipeline.

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