Women own less than 3% land despite sharing 70% activities

September 16, 2014 Off By Web Desk

KARACHI: Women own less than 3% of the country land and they may not have actual control over it despite sharing agriculture activities by 70%, says Society for Conservation and Protection of Environment in a report issued on Wednesday.

According to the report, land distribution in Pakistan is highly unequal as 5% of large landholders possess 64% of the total farmland and 65% small farmers held 15% of land. About 67% households own no land. Landless are mostly engaged in informal activities that absorb a large majority of unskilled, uneducated or less educated poor individuals. Unequal distribution of land is extremely high in Pakistan. Almost 40% of the land is owned by only 2.5% households and 24% land owned by only 0.4 households. Situation of women land ownership is quite depressing.

Land governance and reforms are basically required for redistribution and management of land which could have several benefits that could be social, economic and administrative. There is always inverse relationship of large land holding and productivity therefore land reforms are always treated as strategy for better production.

However, the traditional large land holdings hardly concentrate on productivity. The population all over the world as a whole is on rising trend and Pakistan is one of the populous countries in the world with more than 180 million populations. The entire population requires fulfilling the need for food, a dwelling to live and economic activity to survive. For such activities land is very much required, this aspect of importance of land have already been discussed at the beginning of this essay.

Rapid population growth, widespread poverty, persistent food insecurity, and alarming rate of environmental degradation have fuelled an increasing debate on land tenure systems and land reforms. More equitable access to land is important in combating rural poverty. Under these circumstances, land reforms undoubtedly are regarded as an important factor to alleviate poverty and increase economic development. Since there is always a relationship between land reforms and growth, therefore land reforms were central to strategies to improve the asset base of the poor in developing countries. But in Pakistan their effectiveness has been hindered by political constraints on implementation. For the land reforms it requires political will and determination of the governments, not only this but appropriate laws need to be formulated with their ensured implementation.

Land Reforms inviting involvement of international donor agencies, different governments at different times, NGOs, environmentalists, and economists. Globally, land reforms have been introduced for a mixture of political, economic and egalitarian motives, often resulting from political upheavals, and changing the distribution of land in favour of small farmers. Land reform is also treated with a view of Human Rights issue as it involves survival of people and livelihood of poor peasants. More equitable access to land is important in combating rural poverty to overcome the menace of poverty.

Land is important source of security against poverty, social status and political power in rural Pakistan. Land is one of the most important sources of earning sustainable livelihood and to enhance food security for poor people living in rural Pakistan.

Based on HIES 2001-02 data, approximately 10.36% of the rural population is landless; 32.67% owns under 1 hectare of land; 0.05% owns between 1 and 2 hectare of land; only 0.03% owns 2-3 hectares of land while only 0.02% owns 5 or more hectares of land. This means that a large majority of rural households do not own land at all or do not own enough for subsistence. Approximately 1% households own subsistence and above land holdings.

This implies that rural poverty is extremely high. In fact, almost 57% households are involved in non-agricultural work in order to survive. Given this situation, looking at women’s ownership, access and control over land is a critical area for investigation if any progress is to be achieved to ensure social protection.

The country’s political and administrative system is dominated by the powerful feudal lords. Most of Pakistan’s GDP and the bulk of its export earnings are derived primarily from the agricultural sector controlled by a few hundred feudal families. The feudal paradigm in Pakistan consists of landlords with large joint families possessing hundreds to thousands of acres of land.

The powerful feudal lords, who dominate the country’s political and administrative system, have always been dodging past efforts of land reforms. Instead, the government during the Musharraf Regime approved policy of Corporate Agriculture Farming (CAF) which directly contradicts with the longstanding public demand of land reforms in the country. Due to CAF policy, the dangers of large scale land grabbing and eviction of small and landless farmers in looming over the heads of poor small and landless farmers. The mainstream civil society and media doesn’t provide due coverage to rural poverty, food security and land issues to influence decision makers. Due to widespread terrorism in the country governance is weakened and above all climate change led natural disasters such as floods and devastated resource base of the agriculture.

In Sindh alone, more than one third of the land is tenanted and about two-thirds of land is under sharecropping, a form of farming where output is shared between the landowner and tenant. Sharecropping is the predominant form of tenancy in Sindh where the land ownership distribution is particularly skewed.

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