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Land Reform Benefits Pakistani Women
Since 2008, the Pakistani government has dispenses over 90,000 hectares of productive land to the previously landless, with over 20 percent of the total earmarked for rural women, who have historical been marginalized in reforms.
The program is currently only operating in Sindh province and benefits approximately 80,000 people. President Asif Ali Zardari’s plan to distribute 21,000 hectares this year solely to women, and to protect their ownership through sale and female-only inheritance restrictions, would strengthen the position of female land owners. Although women can legally own land in Pakistan, a 2008 Sustainable Development Policy Institute study had found that women who claim ownership are seen as “weakening” the claims of other male family members.
The latest reports on the project, released last November, state that over 17,400 hectares of land in the majority of Sindh’s districts have been distributed to approximately 4,000 recipients—and 70 percent of those beneficiaries were poor women. Parcels of land range from 1.6 to 10 hectares.
The focus on empowering impoverished women faces challenges, however. Jalil Khokhar, coordinator of the NGO National Rural Support Programme which supports the project, relays that "[t]hey (disgruntled men he meets during field visits) say women will become rebellious, will find a tongue (if they own land).” Additionally, there have been questions about how well the legal documentation for the divisions has made it down to the new landholders. Moreover, some prominent individuals in Sindh province have claimed the land and litigated to halt the reform’s progress.
For more information and firsthand accounts of the benefits of the reform, please visit www.ipsnews.net.
Zofeen Ebrahim. 13 July 2010. “Slowly, Women Gain Ground through Land Ownership.”
Posted By Douglas Bojack at 2:35pm on July 14, 2010
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