Land Reforms-A step forward to empowering women

Land Rights: A Step Forward to
Empowering Women
Mukesh Kumar Khatwani,
Programme Advisor,
Indus Future Foundation
Land Reforms in Pakistan
A Tenancy Legislation Committee was formed in 1943 to make recommendations for
improving the conditions of haaris (landless tenants) in sub-continent.The work of
this committee was interrupted by the Second World War.
In 1947 a Hari Enquiry Committee was formed and its recommendations were
published in 1949, and the early 1950s saw a number of provincial tenancy regulation
Debate started on land reform among political and policy circles around 1945
culminated in the West Pakistan Land Reform Regulation in February 1959”.
In March 1972, the Z. A. Bhutto government announced further land reform measures, which
went into effect in 1973.
The landownership ceiling was lowered to about five hectares of irrigated land and about
twelve hectares of non-irrigated land. The ceiling could also be extended for poor-quality
Official statistics showed that by 1977 only about 520,000 hectares had been surrendered,
and nearly 285,000 hectares had been redistributed among about 71,000 farmers.
In 2008 Sindh Government distributed 2.1 million acres land among landless haris
(farmers), preferably women tenants in almost all the districts of Sindh, under a land
grant policy. The Government also provided support to cultivate 4 acres of land, who
received land under land grant policy.
Land grant policy
Whatever and wherever Sindh Government’s land is available in the barrage
areas will be distributed among the land-less Haris.
Water will be saved by different methods to be diverted to non-barrage area; and
also water storages in Manchar and hamal and such lands will be distributed
among land less Haris, of that area.
Land which has gone out of cultivation in barrage area and is considered waste
and un-culturable now will be developed and distributed among land less Haris..
Riverain area will be developed by tube-wells, but tube-wells are un-economical
to develop forests and wherever forests have dwindled due to non availability of
flood waters, the land will be leased out to land less Haris to start with for 30
Un-surveyed government lands suitable for cultivation will be developed
wherever water is available and given to local land less people.
Agricultural land will be safe guarded from being turned into urban residential
and industrial areas and these requirements will be met by making use of waste
land. .
Women property rights: Constitution of Pakistan and
international declarations
The constitution of Pakistan also ensures all citizens can own property .
Islamic Law, Shariah, stipulates that women be accorded share in inheritance,
albeit lower than that of male heirs
Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has
the right to own property alone, as well as in association with others. No one
shall arbitrarily be deprived of property.”
Article 14 of CEDAW protects the rights of rural women to equal treatment in
land and agrarian reform as well as in land resettlement schemes.
The International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, in Article
11 guarantees women to equal access to economic resources, including the
right to inheritance and the ownership of land and other property.
The International Covenant of Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination,
under Article 5, requires State Parties to guarantee the right of everyone, to
equality before law, notably in the enjoyment of the right to own property alone
as well as in association with others, and the right to inherit.
Relationship b/w women’s status and
Land is one of the important factor in determining the status of a person in
rural areas of Pakistan particularly in province of Sindh.
women are given land as part of huq mehr (dower) for a variety of reasons
including to honor the girl and her family.
In Sindh, the landless peasants are willing to accord women some direct
relationship with land, but specifically in the upper classes, it is assumed
that women has no direct relationship with land, and that it is mediated by
Men needed to do important tasks related to land, and that even if women
had ownership of land, they would be paralyzed without male involvement
and support.
In Sindh and Balochistan, farmers of varying scales pointed out that fewer
women worked on fields than earlier because as a direct result of economic
upward mobility, women were no longer needed to work on land, and men
could afford to provide for them. (SDPI (2008) Women Land Rights)
Women land Ownership: Ground
A majority of women know that women have a right to land, however Sharia
is not observed with regard to women’s land rights because of cultural
women do not claim their right to land out of the fear of antagonizing their
family, which in most cases is their only support or safety net.
land claim by a woman is perceived as a source of discord within families,
inviting hostility from the husband’s family or brothers and other male
members on the father’s side.
women are compensated for the lack of land rights through dowry
Decisions related to girls’ marriages are primarily dictated by the concerns
about land ownership and inheritance
Even women own land but its control and management is widely perceived
to fall in the purview of men
In 2008 Sindh Government granted land amongst rural women to make
them empowered, but is observed that its control and management fall in
the purview of men because of cultural and other factors.
There is no doubt about the significance of the intervention of government
for land redistribution., however; there is a need to ensure that these
redistributive laws and policies target the poor population and are gender
Once pro-poor and gender-balanced policies are in place, there is a need
for effective implementation
The government should provide training/awareness opportunities and
infrastructure support to facilitate women to control and manage land on
their own.
Women should be provided extension services such as loans, credits,
fertilizers, seeds etc.
The government should institute social protection systems for women and
the existing legal institutions should be reformed for better accessibility and
Thanking you very much

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