In Asia, it is difficult to be a woman. To be a woman, especially in the rural areas, is to be poor and often excluded from development processes. Women bear the brunt of hardship – they do so much for their families and yet are seldom recognized for their efforts. Agriculture is increasingly becoming feminized, notably in South Asia; more and more women are depending on agriculture for their livelihoods.
However, despite women’s key role in agriculture, their access to land is limited; ownership of land even more so. Land ownership is one of the greatest challenges that stand in the way of women’s access to land. First is landownership – either there is very little or there is none at all.
Some laws and policies are in place to protect women’s rights, including land rights. But the implementation gap means that more needs to be done, and hints at the greatest challenge: changing mindsets and patriarchal views – not only among men but also women.
Ensuring women’s land rights guarantees household food security, as well as the efficiency of farming. Pushing forward women’s rights – through gender mainstreaming, empowering women, and pro-women policy advocacy – therefore remains an urgent agenda.