Financial Empowerment of Women can help reduce violence

Chennai, March 24, 2015: "One of the reasons women continue to face violence is because of lack of control over their financial resources," said Ms Lalitha Kumaramangalam, Chairperson National Commission for Women today. Speaking at a panel discussion on "Land Rights for Women Farmers" organized by M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), Ms Kumaramangalam said in order to reduce systemic violence against women, their inclusion in planning and policy frameworks starting from grassroots level was essential. "There are financial advantages of investing in women, and investing in them should be seen as a financial investment rather than social responsibility."

Dr. Rukmini Rao, Founder Gramya Resource Centre for Women, appealed for a holistic support given to the rights of farming, fisheries, forest rights and livestock, and called for convergence of existing legislations. Based on discussions through the Makaam (Mahila Kissan Adhikar Manch) network for women farmers across 16 states, she presented a charter of demands to the Chairperson, National Commission for Women appealing for support to implement existing laws and encouraging legal literacy for the community.

Ms Geeta Ramaseshan, Senior Advocate, reiterated this aspect, emphasizing on nurturing paralegals to strengthen the system. Citing various legal provisions for women under different religious laws, especially with regard to property and inheritance, Ms Ramaseshan emphasized the need for women to write a will, even if it is for their own safety.

Earlier, setting the context for the discussions, Mrs Mina Swaminathan, Distinguished Chair, Gender & Development, MSSRFsaid while 80% of the work in agriculture was done by women, their actual ownership of land was only 13%. The Women Farmers' Entitlements Bill that Prof Swaminathan tried to introduce when he was Rajya Sabha member, had taken efforts to address various issues related to Women Farmers. Now that it had lapsed, there was need to re-look at a comprehensive framework for Women's Entitlements.

Prof Swaminathan, Founder, MSSRF, emphasized the need to engender the research agenda. "It is a great opportunity to pass the one-third reservation for women as a Bill passed in Rajya Sabha does not lapse and the ruling party has favourable numbers in Lok Sabha. I hope the ruling party will complete this process towards social and political empowerment of women."

Ms Lalitha Kumaramangalam also spoke about the National Commission for Women appointing interlocutors and experts across various states to gather information to provide desired inputs. "It is at a preliminary stage, but NCW is considering appointing these people in an advisory role for policy inputs in various spheres", she said.