In tune with the Congress emphasis at the Jaipur conclave in January that the government must bring womens issues to the centre stage,the rural development ministry has been adding gender component in most of its schemes.
The draft National Land Reforms Policy has an entire chapter on womens rights. It stresses the need to improve womens access,particularly from the marginalised sections,given rural households are increasingly becoming de-facto female headed households due to widowhood,desertion,or male-out migration.
The policy says all new homestead/land distribution or regularisation to landless families should be only in womens name instead of joint titles with husbands. Where more than one adult woman the names of all female adults should be registered, it says.
It urges states to recognise womens claims in government land transfers and consider the adoption of a group approach in land cultivation and investment in productive assets and thus,grant group titles to womens groups.
This would require changes in tenancy laws to allow leasing of land to womens groups and recognise such groups as a valid category of landowners, the draft policy states.
It says 50 per cent of land pattas (titles) given to forest communities should go to women under any land enactment. It states that an all-women panel should be formed at the panchayat level to manage common property resources. Women shall also be helped to purchase land in groups for group cultivation by a loan-cum-grant scheme with 50 per cent of the loan as a low interest loan and the rest as a grant, the policy states. However,since land is a state subject,the Centre can only advise.
The draft National Right to Homestead Bill,2013 says the title to the homestead would be in the name of the adult woman member of the family and that priority in allotment will be given to marginalised women.
The National Rural Livelihoods Mission has introduced a gender justice component for which it will begin by identifying areas with rampant women trafficking. The NRLM (Aajeevika) operates through SHGs and focuses on organising women.
The recently launched skill development-cum-placement initiative,Roshni,for the 27-worst LWE affected areas says at least 50 per cent of the youth trained and placed should be women.
Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh had recently proposed a restructuring of the National Social Assistance Programme and called for widening the definition of widows.