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Does land ownership make a difference? Women's roles in agriculture in Kerala, India.

Authors
  • Arun, S
Type
Published Article
Journal
Gender and development
Publication Date
Nov 01, 1999
Volume
7
Issue
3
Pages
19–27
Identifiers
PMID: 12349476
Source
Medline
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

Drawing on a 12-month study, this paper explores the role of women in agriculture in Kerala, India. Despite claims that women enjoy high status in Kerala, economic, social, and cultural factors interplay to reinforce gender differences in ownership, control over, and access to critical agricultural resources, including land. Although women may gain access to land through inheritance, marriage, or informal networks, none of this guarantee effective control over it. The traditional rights of women to land have not been adequately recognized: the gender gap in the ownership and control of property is the only most significant contributor to the gender gap in the economic well-being, social status, and empowerment of women. The existing socioeconomic changes and crisis which render agricultural land as a main source of livelihood, is leading nair women's share of land being sold, with gains going to men, thus decreasing women¿s ownership of land to the status of male-controlled dowry. The case of the Christian succession laws in Kerala illustrate that legal provisions alone can have a limited impact on changing gendered power structures. The role of women in agriculture needs to be recognized, and institutional support must be increased in order for women to gain access to agricultural inputs and technology, which in turn, leads to better agricultural practices and a higher income from farming in the country. Most importantly, there should be a concerted effort to enable women to function as independent farmers who control their own land.

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