Strengthening Rights for Women and Girls . . .
Shakti beams with pride as she holds her patta – the title to her land. Before she became a landowner, she was among the poorest of the poor, a landless laborer earning only $1 a day and – struggling to provide even one meal a day for her family. In her rural village in the Chitoor district in Andhra Pradesh, she had few options. She worked as a seasonal agricultural laborer, when work was available. When it wasn’t, she worked as a stone crusher, a physically exhausting and dangerous job. She owned only one sari and could only afford to feed her children rice gruel. When Shakti attained secure land rights, all of that changed.
In partnership with the Andhra Pradesh government and the World Bank, RDI designed a land purchase program that works like micro-lending. Qualifying small self-help groups of the poorest villagers – mainly women – are eligible to receive government grants to finance purchases of land available on the market. Shakti and other landless women in her village applied collectively for a loan to buy a plot of land. With assistance from local paralegals, the women negotiated with sellers and split the land parcels among themselves.
Today, Shakti has new status in her village and in her home. She has control over the income from the land, and can now provide three meals a day with vital micro-nutrients for her children. Even better, Shakti can now afford to send her children to school and give them a brighter future of opportunity.
“Namma bhoomi,” says Shakti, pointing to the fields behind her. Her daughter, now literate and studying English translates. “This is our land.” For Shakti and her family, a little land went a very long way.