How India’s Indigenous Female Forest Dwellers Feel about Owning Their Own Land

By Stella Paul
KORCHI/GADCHIROLI, India, Aug 9 2019 – Kumaribai Jamkatan, 51, has been fighting for women’s land rights since 1987.
Though the constitution of India grants equal rights to men and women, women first started to stake their claim for formal ownership of land only after 2005–the year the government accorded legal rights to daughters to be co-owners of family-owned land.
For the Indigenous communities, it was the Forest Rights Act 2006 which allowed women to own land.
The struggle has been long and hard with social, financial and legal challenges, Jamkatan says.

“In the beginning, nobody even believed in the individual land rights of women. Some saw it as a huge work burden as the land is usually in the name of the patriarch of the family and granting ownership to women would mean distributing the land to individual family members.”
About 3,000 women are reported to have received land rights since local Indigenous villages in Gadchiroli district grouped together to assist one another.
Jamkatan is pursuing a personal goal of helping 1,000 women get land rights this year.