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Gender and Land Rights Database

India

Civil society and indigenous people’s organizations advocating for equality of land rights

- The Deccan Development Society, established in 1989, is a grassroot organization based in Medak District in Andhra Pradesh working in about 75 villages with women’s Sanghams, which are voluntary village level associations. The society aims at empowering women, most of whom are dalits, by providing them with knowledge, services and financial support to lease or purchase agricultural land for collective farming (27).  http://www.ddsindia.com/www/default.asp

- Mahila Milan, established in 1986, is a decentralised network of women’s collectives that manage credit and savings activities in their communities. Mahila Milan aims at supporting women in taking up decision-making roles to improve the lives of their communities. Mahila Milan has given out tens of thousands of loans to women all across the country.  http://www.sparcindia.org/

- The Central Social Welfare Board is a network of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working for women welfare in the country. The Board started operating in the 1950s to provide welfare services to disadvantaged segments of society. It later evolved into a full-fledged organization that aims at providing services for the protection, capacity building and empowerment of women and children and to raise awareness about their legal and human rights (27). http://cswb.gov.in/

Local decision-making organizations and women’s representation in them

- Village panchayats are units of self-government set up at the local level, as provided for by the Constitution. They are part a three-tiered system of local governance called Panchayati Raj. Panchayats members are elected and hold their office for five years. Not less than one-third of the seats are reserved for women, as stated in the Constitution (28).

- The Constitution also provides for the institution of Gram Sabha, the assembly of all men and women in the village who are above 18 years of age, to ensure a participatory approach to development. The annual budget and the development schemes for the village are approved by the Gram Sabha (28).

Legal Information and capacity development on land rights

- Article 39A of the Constitution contains provisions on legal aid for women “to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities” (16). Furthermore, India’s Legal Services Authorities Act of 1987, as amended in 2002 provides access to justice for women. The Government, through this enactment, provides free legal aid and services to indigent women in all types of cases.

- Various programmes also provide legal literacy at the community level and help in creating legal awareness in the public.

- Alternative dispute resolution mechanisms are also encouraged through mediation and conciliation; Parivarik Adalat, dealing with family disputes, is also undertaken in collaboration with the National and State Commissions for Women. Many of the disputes have been thus resolved out of court, thus providing women access to speedy resolution of their problems (18).

- The 2007-2012 Eleventh Five Year Plan fosters women’s access to legal services through a range of measures, including the exemption from paying fees to fight cases of human rights violations. Funds for legal assistance will be provided to vulnerable women seeking legal redress.

The Plan also comprises legal awareness programmes to be carried out in all states in collaboration with organizations working at grassroots level.

At the village level, Legal Aid Cells are set up where committed and gender-sensitive lawyers provide information and support to rural women. Training on use of gender specific laws to all officials and authorities involved in providing legal service is also provided under the Plan (22).

Sources: numbers in brackets (*) refer to sources displayed in the Bibliography