SUNGKONGHOE UNIVERSITY Master of Arts in Inter-Asia NGO Studies Master’s Degree Thesis

Women’s Land Ownership and Empowerment: A Case Study of Mrigauliya Village Development Committee Nepal


MASTER DISSERTATION Women’s Land Ownership and Empowerment: A Case Study of Mrigauliya Village Development Committee Nepal

Submitted By: Sunita Basnet The Graduate School of NGO Studies Master of Arts in Inter Asia NGO Studies (MAINS 2011-2012) Sungkonghoe University, Seoul, South Korea. Student Number: 20111603 Email: Date: 29 July 2012 Women are the victims of this patriarchal culture, but they are also its carriers. Let us keep in mind that every oppressive man was raised in the confines of his mother’s home. Shirin Ebadi

ABSTRACT Traditionally, land is considered to be related to women’s sustainable livelihood, prosperity, social status, economic security and political power in Nepal. Since women’s rights to property have been incorporated into various national and international legal and political documents as significant element of human rights, women’s access, ownership and control over land remains largely limited or absent in actual practices. Despite the fact that land entitlements for women have been recognized and encouraged in Nepal in recent decades mainly after the re-establishment of democratic system in 1990 as one of the pillars of empowerment of women, positive relation between land ownership and women’s empowerment has not been well established. This study makes an attempt to find whether and how there is such relationship, and also it tries to answer some other questions such as: how, what kind of, and through which process do women own land in Nepal? What are the factors that determine women’s access to and control over land? The study confirms many normative and empirically based arguments that land ownership can play crucial role in women’s empowerment in many ways. But it also finds that land ownership alone cannot be sufficient for women’s empowerment in Nepal, thus other supplementary factors might be relevant. It reveals the fact that almost 41% surveyed women legally own the land. Most women have security of land tenure as wives and daughter-in-law; whereas, very few of them have through parents and own selves. It shows that if females do not cooperate with the male members either father\brother\ husband, they might be cast out and no one seems to be out there for them. It also finds that very few women, who interestingly happen to be widow with small children and live separately, have full control over their land. And when women with land ownership are educated, it is highly likely that they are willing to invest their

Empowerment ii . Generally marital status and family relationship seem to determine female’s access to land and other form of property ownership in Nepal. Women’s Right. Keywords: Women’s Land in education for themselves and their children. which might be crucial for the empowerment of women in Nepal.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT In acknowledging the help. iii . I cannot help but appreciate the participants of survey. who volunteered generously their time and willingness to share their experiences. which in cooperation with MAINS enabled me to successfully pursue the Masters Degree study by providing full scholarship to me. encouragement and inspiration throughout my stay at the University. I am grateful to a number of people. I have been quite fortunate in having interactive MAINS classes on women’s property rights as this study has benefitted a lot. deserves my sincere thanks. Anjana Luitel for helping me to translate all the questionnaires from English into Nepali. who have been of immense support during the period of undertaking this study. I would also like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to Professor Sungkyung Kim for her valuable suggestions provided prior to conducting the survey. Min-Kyung Paik for her kind assistance to me in borrowing books from inter-library loan system. No less has been continuous moral support and encouragement of my parents. Cho-Hee Yeon. I must begin first by expressing my greatest indebtedness to my thesis supervisor Professor Songwoo Hur. to which I am always indebted. My deepest appreciation goes to Hyundai KIA Motors. I am very thankful to Ms. I am grateful to my two sisters Sushma and Urmila for their help in conducting the survey. and Ms. without which my dissertation would not have been completed the way it has. My appreciation goes to thesis director Professor Hyo-Je Cho for providing his insightful guidance. I proudly take this opportunity to extend by hearty thanks to all the professors who gave lectures to the MAINS class of the year 2011-2012 – their sound and insightful lectures have contributed one way or other to this study. who has been of great help initially during admission administration. Although I unfortunately could not meet Prof. whose guidance and support has been of significant importance.

Chandra Bahadur Baniya who wanted to see me graduating from MAINS program. Therefore.Last but certainly not least. assistance and kindness will always be cherished. but he also has helped in reading through much of the manuscript and making critical comments and suggestions. It was the keen interest of my father-in-laws. I would like to dedicate this study to him in his memory. he passed away a couple of months before the submission of this research. iv . Jeevan Baniya who not only gave me a moral support to pursue my Master’s degree at MAINS immediately after a couple of months from our marriage. But unfortunately. I am indebted to my husband. understanding. Your support.

and Development Government of Nepal Human Development Index Human Development Report International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights International Covenant on Economic.LIST OF ACRONYMS ADB: CBS CEDAW against FWLD GON: HDI HDR ICCPR ICESCR MDG SC UDHR UNDP VDC: Asian Development Bank Central Bureau of Statistics Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Women Forum for Women. Law. Social and Cultural Rights Millennium Development Goal Supreme Court Universal Declaration of Human Rights United Nations Development Programme Village Development Committee v .

9: Women’s Empowerment and Land Ownership Management of income from land Empowerment of women through land ownership vi .6: Women’s land acquisition through family members Enlightened husband and women’s ownership on land Women’s willingness to invest land in education Women’s decision making in rice plantation Women’s decision to sell land without anyone consults E nhancement of women’s decision making p osition through land ownership Figure 1.5: Figure 1.2: Figure 1.1: Figure 1.3: Figure 1.7: Figure 1.8: Figure 1.4: Figure 1.INDEX OF FIGURES Figure 1.

................................................................................................................ 9 Existing Literatures on Women’s Empowerment through Land Acquisitions ............................................................................................................................................................... 1 Background of the Research ........................................................ 9 Chapter 2: Women’s Status........ Property Entitlement and Empowerment...................................................................................................... 5 Research Methodology ...................................................................... 16 Linking of Land Entitlement with Empowerment ..... ................Table of Contents Abstract .................................................................... i Acknowledgements ....................................................................................... v Index of Figures ......... 13 Women’s Legal Property Rights and Remained Issues ......................................... 1 Aims and Questions of the Research ...................................................................................................................... iii Acronyms .............................. 24 vii .............................................................................................................................. 21 Chapter 3: Land Entitlement............................................... vi Chapter 1: Introduction ............ 7 Organizations of the Chapters .......................................................... Education and Empowerment .. 24 Enlightened Husband and Women’s Ownership on Land................................... 13 Social Cultural Backgrounds of Suspended Women’s Land Property Rights ...........................................................................................................

................ 38 Chapter 5: Concluding Remarks................................................................................................................................................................................ 35 Access to Investment and Management of Income ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 54 viii ........................ 32 The Relationship between Women with Land Ownership and Decision Making Position .. 27 Chapter 4: Land Entitlement................................................................................................... 45 Appendices ....................... 32 Women’s Autonomy for the Use of Land ................................... 43 References ..........Investment of Land in Education ........................................... Autonomy and Empowerment .

culture and location (Basnet 2010). where poverty affects women disproportionately. which ultimately gives more power to men and creates unequal access to food. capitalized on. However. . property in the context of my dissertation should be understood as land only. 2 Women are also treated differently depending on caste. information and resources (Subedi 2010). the agricultural growth is less than 2. On the other hand. women face the greatest socio-economic and political inequalities throughout the country compared to counterparts. 1 One might often ponder. Reports on women have revealed that they get involved in agricultural activities longer than men but have little access to the economic resources they generate when it comes |to acquiring property(Basnet 2010:17). Hence. invest in. finance. class. The recent adult literacy rate shows strikingly large discrepancies. property rights refers to the right to use. consume. As a result. where population growth is more than 2.2 The widespread poverty has also contributed to make women less skilled. which can be own through inheritance (mostly) and often purchase or tenancies. education. and food scarcity has been the prime factor in increasing rural poverty.4% of total population is living below the national poverty line in the country.5%. where adult literacy rate is 43% for female and 71% for men in 2010(USDS 2011). ADB (2009) reported that 25. HDR (2001) reveals that in the past 3 decades. why this is the case? This might have been resulted mostly from traditional prejudices.5%. Similarly. sell and donate property (Scalise 2009). ethnic groups. In general Property includes both movable and immovable things.CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Background of the Research The overall situation of women in Nepal is worse than that of men. mentally incapable and physically unfit. I have used the term land and property interchangeably. health. Illiteracy lags women far behind men in access to material resources including property.1 1 .

However. the District Administrative Office of Dolakha. White 2009).2 - 3 . 2011a).5 This lack of awareness has deprived many children from various social benefits that are provided by the states and private institutions (Jha 2010). women were restricted to transfer citizenship to their children until 2006 (Jha 2010. The issue of citizenship based on matrimonial status still abide common in practice due to the lack of clarity in legal and administrative procedures (Archarya 2011). women face a major barrier to claim their rights over land they are tilling (Kiruppalini 2006:15).Likewise. In Nepal. . Jha 2010). Until 2005.000 (still arguable) state of de facto statelessness due to lack of citizenship certificate. The gap between the original of people without citizenship and the number of people who received citizenship is nearly 1-2. Jha 2010) 4 In a survey conducted in two (Morang and Sunsari) of 75 districts in Nepal.4 Citizenship is significant for women. human rights groups estimate that there are approximately 800.4-5 million and has provided citizenship to 2. 5 According to The Kathmandu Post one of the renowned national newspaper in Nepal. starting a business and holding property(Cited in Dhital 2010.4 million eligible Nepalese people. who are yet to receive the citizenship certificate (for more information. which have left women far behind men. foreign employment. Laczo 2003). Studies have shown that patriarchy legitimizes various prejudices and maintains unequal power relations (Ghandhi 2004.6 million in 2007/2008. Jha 2010). hesitated to provide citizenship to Sabina Damai on the basis of her mother’s citizenship in the last week of February 2011 and later was granted the citizenship with the help of Supreme Court (TKP. women’s right to property were not even admitted in public policy but today it is admissible yet includes many disputes. one of the 75 districts. Shachar and Hirschl (2007) insist that citizenship is similar to the other types of property that allows its possessor to exercise freedom and autonomy through what is legally hers and to protect her rights against others. 70% of the respondents said that they faced citizenship issues especially to attain scholarships for higher education. In the absence of citizenship certificate. UNESCAP 2000).3 Women especially in rural areas are not even aware of citizenship and their rights (Dhital 2010. receiving loan from financial institutions. where majority are women (TKP 2011c. Majority of The government of Nepal (GON) reported that the number of people without citizenship in 1995 was 3.

However. Besides. power and privilege among people have brought the severe consequences of gender stratification. born to a Nepali father and foreign mother can get citizenship on the basis of descent. the very unequal distributions of wealth. whereas.5% are women (Shrestha 2009).3 - 6 . economic security and political power in Nepal (Agarwal 1994. Human Development report (HDR) reported that about 37% of agricultural land is owned by 5% of people from elite class (UNDP 2004).562 for urban areas.4 million The Gender-related Development Index (GDI) for the rural areas is 0. which contributed 40% of the GDP (Kiruppalini 2006). CSCR 2008a. 84% of the population dwell in rural areas (CIA 2011) and are dependent on agriculture for subsistence farming. which indicates the higher degree of gender inequality in rural areas (UNDP 2004). State also continues discriminating women on the basis of sex in citizenship matter (ADB 2010. . the father must live in Nepal continuously for 15 years and the child is given only naturalized citizenship (Bashyal 2011).women especially rural women cannot afford to buy land and usually they can have access to land through male relatives and mostly it depends on good marital and family relations (Benschop 2004). social status. About 80% population relies on agriculture for employment (UNDP 2001). Traditionally.6 Still many challenges remain when it comes to the implementation of laws into substantive equality for women. but if the child is born to a Nepali mother and foreign father. much of these arable lands in Nepal are in private hands and especially with very limited people (male) and access to these lands are possible mainly through inheritance. A child for instance. UNDP 2004). prosperity. Land especially arable land is considered as major property (productive assets) in agrarian economies like in Nepal. Currently. among them 60. it is seen as a divine because of its association with sustainable livelihood. Laczo 2003). 1.430 compared to 0.

ability to contribute to are landless (eKantipur 2011) which disproportionately affects women’s access to land.738 Sukumbasi (landless people) families applied for land entitlement rights and out of these only 54. access. access to economic resources (Benschop 2004. Baskota 2009. a total of 263. Studies have also showed that women’s property ownership empower women by increasing women’s self-esteems. Pandey 2009). Among other cause.51% of women have land and house ownership respectively.7 It has revealed that the gender gap on land also intensified during the time of extreme land scarcity. The Government of Nepal (GON) has taken initiation on women’s sustainable empowerment by favoring women’s right to property. The initiation includes the abolition of fifty-six discriminatory laws based on sex and creating new legislations for women (Upreti 2011). One of the key focuses of increasing women’s property ownership has been the 11th Amendment of the Country Code (Muluki Ain) that secures a number of human rights related to property for women: equal inheritance right. Additionally.84 and barely 5. . The central bureau of statistics (CBS 2008) reveals that only 10. equal rights on husband’s property and widow rights on property. state also played a discriminatory role during the time of land distribution to the landless people by excluding women (Luitel 2009). ability to borrow.170 families were considered as genuine Sukumbasi (cited in Karki 2002) and 18400 out of total genuine sukumbasi were liberated through the July 2000 declaration (Gefont 2006).4 7 . Women’s equal right to inherit. tax rebate while transferring or registering land on women ’s name has been imposed in the hopes of bringing women into the mainstream land ownership and empowering them. own and control land is firmly recognized under statutory national laws. Furuta & Salway 2006:18. but the persistence of patriarchy deprives women from enjoying their rights. There is still a lack of implementation in local level because of two According to Sukumbasi Samasya Samadhan Aayog.

married. they are unable to recover from the loss of land. owned. this study seeks to find the linkage of empowerment of women through land ownership. Many reports illustrate that the absence of women’s equal property rights hinders the economic development and empowerment of women (Farha 1999. We don’t know whether land ownership has positive or negative impact on women because there is still a huge debate on whether land entitlement empowers women.5 - 8 . No studies have so far established this relationship. education which might lead to better opportunities and advance in better life (Bennett 1981. 2000). the defective value system. Williams (2006) argues that when the poor (men and women) use the land as collateral. Second. However. agricultural. Rana 2007). rented. Soto 1989. the place upon which a house is established. Undertaking the studies in Mrigauliya village development committee (VDC).8 Aims and Questions of the Research The term women in the context of my dissertation should be understood as women who are single (unmarried). lack of education. and ignorance of the law among women have pose challenge to exercise these rights in rural areas (UNDP 2009). even if women manage to own land with the help of close kin. First.reasons. Farha 1999. referring to all land including that which is arable. Bennett 1981. . Rana 2007. Land as property can be kept as collateral to secure loans and credit and used for further investments. leased. Many scholars and studies have argued that property right is very crucial for women who are poor and illiterate because women’s right in. Soto 2004). they have no control over it (Upreti 2011). access to and control over land is the most critical factor in women’s empowerment and gender equality (Allendrof 2007. divorced and widowed depending upon the context and the term land is used broadly. inherited.

I have used education and autonomy as attributes to measure empowerment of women through land ownership. Very little attention has been given to women’s control and equal rights in land. Since there are few studies on women’s empowerment through land entitlement.Women’s land status has been one of the fundamental areas of women’s empowerment process (Luintel. it looks into the socio-cultural and economic factors that inhibit or contribute to women’s entitlement of land. This is the hope that the findings of this study might be of great potential to policy makers. women’s organizations. this study presumes that land ownership is one of the many . As discussed above. empowerment and dignity (Williams 2006). In doing so.6 - . 2001) because land is perceived for its inalienable wealth. Land entitlement in relation to women’s empowerment is considered as an important aspect because it not only provides social security but also empowers the owner and the family in the larger extend. there is a need for a study to explore whether empowerment of rural women through land ownership is possible. feminists and international agencies to devise new or alternative ways of strategies to bring women in equal footing with men and developing more democratic and just society in Nepal. There has been a huge debate on whether the policy interventions have benefitted local women and empower them in larger extend. Even the scholar like Pandey (2009) affirms that Nepal is facing severe challenge to raise the number of rural women on property ownership and has highlighted the need of further studies on rural women’s access to land. Then. Hence. bureaucrats. the key exploration of my research is to find the linkage of empowerment through women’s land entitlement. I discuss on how women’s property right might have empowered them and have benefitted the family.

tools that can improve women’s status. this VDC includes my village where I grew up and am familiar with local people especially women. I have chosen this VDC because of four reasons. There are 4000 VDCs and 9 wards (unit) in each VDC (Shakya & Upadhyaya 1997).7 9 . only very few studies have been conducted on women’s empowerment related to land ownership. Firstly. the Nepal is politically and geographically divided into 14 zones and 75 districts. programs and activities. According to the Mrigauliya VDC office. 6719 are female out of 13. .710 population in 2006 and is estimated that every year the population is increased by 2%. Morang districts. However.9 Mrigauliya VDC lies on Koshi zone. there are many questions that can be relevant to ask in relation to this presumption and the general dynamics of land ownership and women’s empowerment: To what extent does land ownership empower women within the family? Who owns land and on what basis? Do women holding land engage more in household decision making than those with no ownership? Research Methodology Land ownership for the socioeconomic empowerment of Nepalese women has become popular development strategy in recent years. There is rare statistical information on the number of women empowered from land entitlement by public institutions. Quantitative research method can offer a generalization of the entire population from which the sample is drawn (McMillan and Weyers 2007). every individual can acquire citizenship. together with other policies. The survey includes 100 women from Mrigauliya VDC who were at least 16 years old. This study conducts the quantitative survey to obtain the factual data on women’s empowerment through land entitlement. The population of female who are at least 16 years are around 4.000. I intentionally selected this age group because after the age of 16. But.

most requisite legal documents to own property. Secondly, the number of women who holds property have boosted unexpectedly since 2009 in Mrigauliya. However, it is very difficult to accurately estimate the current number of women who owns land in Mrigauliya, due to the absence of up-to-date statistics, negligence and lack of gender disaggregated data. Up to the thesis writing time, there are 1616 women who own land in the form of property. Thirdly, Land is used as agricultural farming and is one of the prominent (99%) substantial sources of livelihood, employment, asserts and income in this VDC. Finally, there are also a diverse socio-economic classes and groups of the respondents. Among those 100 women, 41 women have had property entitlement and were married (Appendix I (Table 1.1)). The questions are structured in the way that relate land ownership with empowerment because the official statistics do not reveal who actually controls over land, even though women may be officially registered as owners of land. The questionnaires were first written in English then translated into Nepali. The questionnaires contents were developed after reviewing the literatures and were pre-tested with three Nepali women from Mrigauliya for cultural sensitivity, logic and clarity. The respondents were selected randomly from various wards of Mrigauliya VDC by visiting door to door. The questionnaires were distributed to those who could read and write. Simultaneously, face to face survey was conducted for those who could not read and write with the help of three graduate students.10 The survey includes thirty questions and the data collection lasted for a month in December 2011, although, it was initially planned for two weeks.11 I should admit that the survey gives little information on many of the social variable. Microsoft
Originally I wanted to conduct my fieldwork in Mrigauliya by myself but due to the time constraints and the continuation of study in Korea, I therefore had to give up my original idea and find the alternative to these problems. 11 Refer chapter 2 for more details. - 8 10

Excel was used for analysis and the interpretation was done on the basis of average, frequency distribution, regression and percentage of responses. The survey was filled only by those women who meet the age criteria and were willing to volunteer their time. Organization of the Chapters The dissertation is organized in five chapters. The first chapter is the introduction. Chapter two scrutinizes women’s status, property entitlement and empowerment in Nepalese society. First, it investigates the social cultural barriers of suspended women’s land rights. Thereafter, it provides a brief history of women’s legal property rights and remained issues in national and grassroots level. Finally, the chapter defined empowerment in relation to property rights. Chapter three and four are the main chapters of this study as it includes the findings based on information gathered from the survey. Chapter three analyzes the women’s empowerment through education in reference to property ownership. It further scrutinizes the willingness of women to invest their property in education and how enlightened husband helps to empower women through land acquisitions. Chapter four seeks to investigate women’s autonomy associated with property ownership. It focuses on how and why property ownership affects the control of economic resources in terms of household position, family decision making and control and management of income. Based on the survey result, the information of women’s with and without property ownership is compared and contrasted on their household decision making position. The last chapter includes conclusion and recommendation made based on the findings of the survey. Existing Literatures on Women’s Empowerment through Land Acquisitions
- 9 -

Since, land has been identified as a source of power, pride, dignity, prosperity and commodity (Agarwal 1994; Pandey 2009:281; Shrestha 2009), right to property and land entitlements have been tools for women’s empowerment (CWLR 2005).12 According to De Soto, property rights transform dead capital into resources that can be used to generate additional capital (1989; 2000). The reason behind is that

the establishment of property rights for the poor is the key to economic revival in developing countries like Nepal. The empirical literature examining the impact of property rights finds the correlation of property right and economic growth. It is assumed that strong property rights fosters economic growth by encouraging entrepreneurship, investment, capital accumulation and technological innovation (Williamson 2011). Likewise, women’s access to land is a march out of poverty and heading towards gender equality. Eve Crowley of the Land Tenure Service at FAQ state that poverty is inversely correlated with land ownership, where direct access to land minimizes women’s risk of impoverishment and improves the physical well-beings and prospects for their children. However, there is a concern that while recognizing property rights it widens the gap between haves and have-nots and may result in increased vulnerability and further disempowered women (Williams 2006). The gap is likely to weaken human rights and decrease human security. It remains unclear whether simply granting land entitlement to poor will be the engine to lift them out of poverty. How can a piece of paper which represents ownership create value? Lozada (2001) argues that property rights alone is not sufficient for empowerment:

Goetschel (2006) has defined entitlement as the ownership, control or access to the benefit streams and utilities derived from a resource. According to Ostrom (2000), property ownership is an enforceable right which includes the right of access, withdrawal, management, exclusion, and alienation of one’s assets. - 10 -


reduce child mortality. the owners not only have more security. 2000). income. Allendorf 2007:7-8). but also can join the formal economy and access to credit using their land as collateral and generate capital and begin to prosper which finally lead to women’s empowerment (Soto 1989.“Reducing poverty might require more than merely the establishment of clear and fair property rights. socially and politically and insists that women with stronger control over land are less likely to become economically vulnerable. antidiscrimination legislation. . which will increase the power of women and secure their future (Ibid). Shrestha (2009) firmly asserts that women’s influence in land empowers them economically. Reports also show that land ownership is one of the potential factors to empower women and promote the welfare and well beings of women and their families (ADB 1999. 13 Similarly. and anticorruption measures. others argue that there are many positive aspect of women’s ownership of property.11 - 13 . sustainable productions. By granting the poor women legal title to land. strengthens their competence to tackle social and political gender discrimination and augment their autonomy. enhances confidence. Children of mother with land ownership are unlikely to be malnourished or stunted and Welfare and Well beings includes access to agricultural inputs.that poor nations need to participate fully in the national and global marketplace?” However. credit. improve maternal health. women’s access to land boosts bargaining power of women at home. What about the low nutritional standard and weak public health systems that undermine the productivity of poor workers? What of the international financial volatility that affects the prices of the mineral or agricultural goods many developing nations export? And what of the other layers of legal reform-such as bankruptcy laws. makes legal awareness. invest in child education and improve household positions.

. Outside interventions including neighbor. Who is responsible for treating son and daughter equally? Why do parents discriminate among their own children? It requires the further investigations and studies. we must question differently if we are to understand the situation. However.emphasized that women’s land rights will empower women by increasing their efficiency and welfare (Allendorf 2007). community and state are totally unacceptable in both matters (Ibid: 93). Nobel Peace Laureate.12 - . It is because land can be kept as collateral and used for further investment. loan. which leads to better opportunities resulting in better life. For this. The next chapter scrutinizes women’s status. education. they are generally unable to recover from the loss of their assets and finally they began to lose their land (2006:171). married daughters are still discriminated by law on parental property (Scalise 2009. Niimi argues that patriarchy creates unequal power relation (2009:32) and empirical studies show that gender inequality is caused by cultural. social and economic factors. Williams. In Nepal. elaborated in chapter-2). Jha (2009:49) criticized the work of women’s rights advocators. arguing that the advocators have forgotten to maintain equality among women. Equally. property entitlement and empowerment in Nepalese society. However. highlighted the risks of using land as collateral for loans for empowering poor women and argued that if the poor use land as collateral. Still considerable population thinks that sexuality and property are private issues and should be outside the realm of public sphere (Luintel 2001:93).

14 This chapter analyzes women’s position in relation to property ownership. Second. Subedi 2010). There is still a strong boy preferences culture from birth to death (Martin 2008. In this section I will focus on why the legal provision on land rights does not work in reality because of diverse backgrounds for lack of women’s land property rights. From the early ages. Social Cultural Backgrounds of Suspended Women’s Property Rights Nepalese women are barred from inheriting and acquiring property for number of reasons. are very rare. perform death rituals and inherit property. which do have sons. then husband. There are some reasons why women’s legal land right does not work in practice. Still many women are obligated to give a birth to a son child in the name of preserving traditions. First. highlights the history of women’s land right and examines its link with empowerment. The chances of daughters inheriting land in families.13 - 14 .CHAPTER 2 WOMEN’S STATUS. how far legal provision related to property might empower women in rural areas. take care of parents. the public private division of men and women might relinquish women’s access to land. . Only son is accepted to carry the family name. Manderson & Bennett 2003). PROPERTY ENTITLEMENT AND EMPOWERMENT Nepal is a patriarchy country which defines women’s socioeconomic dependency shifts from father. boys are prepared towards outside world to involve in productive and decision making function. In other words. and finally to son (Kandel 2005:1. the boy preference culture dejects girls to inherit land in families. whereas girls are detained to the inside Patriarchy literally means rule of father or rule of men which has hierarchical relation between men and women (Subedi 2010).

Investing in daughter’s education is something like watering the neighbors’ flower plant (Kandel 2005). often daughters are left behind (Manderson & Bennett 2003). there have not been any serious measures to change the situations. 1994). In Nepal. Among those. privileges and According to the Nepal living standard survey. .world to learn the household drudgery to be a good daughter. This belief affects the adult literacy rate into significant discrepancies. illiteracy severely limits women’s right to property (Rana 2007). which might create barriers to women self-management land. in what contexts. If women are to come out of these confinements. poor economic conditions of parents. 21% of the population aged between 6-24 years revealed that they have never attended the school. The traditional and religious practices have played adverse role on women’s empowerment. Third. But it is no use educating a daughter who will eventually belong to others. 38% of females cited reasons as parents do not want.14 15 . for instance. There are evidences that women who have been migrating for work beyond borders. and school far way (CBS 2004). The religious background such as female seclusion severely hinders the actual possibility for women to claim their rights (Agarwal. dutiful and loyal wife and loving mother (Shakya & Upadhyaya 1997). he is yours and so he brings fortune to the family. while others reasons were excessive workload of the households. are able to own land and increase the ownership tremendously (Bhadra 2009). However. within which spaces and using what modes of conduct create restriction of female mobility outside of family. unaffordable education fees. perfect home maker. Scholar like Agrawal (1994) argues that physical and social confinements such as: what sorts of interaction are permissible with which men. they can start working which includes monetary values and might help owning land.15 Although there are many benefits of educating women. When it comes to the priority of sending children to school. female literacy rate is 43% compared to 71% of male in 2010 (CBS 2010). uneducated women are unable to understand their rights. The general belief in rural areas is that if you educate a son.

Besides. A survey estimated that 4. Until 2002. Women (unmarried/ married/widowed/ divorced) are vulnerable on exercising property rights. lack of information about proper market. divorced women neither received the property from husband and his family nor from parents (Sangroula and Pathak 2002) and still relevant in rural areas. lactation and childcare. Polygamy can result in an unfair distribution of property among wives .4% of Nepalese women were living in polygamous marriages in 2001 (Sigi 2009). Studies show that the possibilities of having many children from early marriages are higher. Furthermore. patrilocal residence (bride goes to live in bridegroom’s house) is widely practiced. polygamy is still rampant although it is legally restricted (Subedi 2010). whereas sons stay at home and look after parents (Kandel 2005). legal awareness and production technology which might limits women to acquire and manage land (Luitel 1996). early marriages often take places between the ages of 15-20 in rural areas. Culturally. the exercise of marriage system might undermine access to land. It is said that women’s higher illiteracy levels might yield into inadequate access to cash. It is socially unacceptable to remain single (unmarried) but only unmarried daughter can claim the right on parental property. Patrilocal residence might be another factor that discourages parents to provide property to their daughters. Finally. and the greater will be the constraints on physical mobility and overall ability to control and manage land. hospitality of a son-in-law and his parents is utterly tabooed for the father and is shameful to take anything from married daughter or her belongings (Agrawal 1994). the more time women have to spend on pregnancy. the social understanding of good daughter discourages female from claiming patrimony. Scholar like Agrawal (1994) argues that the greater the number of births. It could be a reason that parents unconsciously transfer the property to son.15 - .obligation (Ibid). Besides. Similarly.

Muluki Ain has its root on Hindu scriptures.following the death of husband or render some women destitute when resources are limited. Manusmriti. Women’s equal property inheritance and land ownership is one of the most concerning areas since its formation. Whatsoever. there are various factors which impact women’s status in the family such as age experiences. which was very discriminatory against women. On the other hand. The findings presented in this thesis also suggest that still women’s considerable number of women lack fair access to opportunities and resources (see Appendix I table 1. the greater would be constrains on women’s ability to claim and effectively manage land. Women’s Legal Property Rights and Remained Issues This section highlights the contemporary property right movement for women in Nepal. Nepal is still the strongest male dominated society where women’s life is fully controlled by their father and brother before marriage. It is challenging for women to own/inherit land when they are living with the mercy of male from life to death.1).16 - . which describe the rules of . The first codified law in Nepal regarding property was Muluki Ain (law of land) of 1854. giving birth to a male child etc. by husband after marriage and by son in old age(Luitel 2001:105). I will first describe the process of government side and then role of women’s organization before and after having full land rights permission and currently remained issues. Agarwal (1994) affirms that the greater the control on female sexuality. which can change women’s status in the family to more power wielding positions.

Manusmriti states that a wife. she could only dispose maximum half of her property without anyone’s consent. 16 Muluki Ain had adverse effect on women’s overall status in Nepal. According to the partition section of the Ain. under the husband once married and under the control of sons after the death of husband (For more information Pandey 2009). However. if she remains unmarried and reached 35 years old and is expected to live under the guardianship of her parents and her brothers until her death. nor they were recognized as Until 2005. including the place of women in the society (Pandey 2009). neither unmarried daughters below the age of 35 received equal education.17 16 . married women would not receive any property if the property belongs to father-in-law (cited in Sangroula and Pathak 2009). food and other expenses (except marriage expenses). Only Muluki Ain of 1976 acknowledged women’s issues including women’s right to property but terms and condition were imposed (Ibid). upon her marriage. the Ain only recognized married women as successors if any members of husband’s family denied providing food and other necessary arrangements or husbands take a second wife. but women were again fully excluded from equal property rights (Kandel 2005). However. The rule of life. she had to return the remaining property (excluding the wedding cost if any) to the heirs. Nepal was only the Hindu state in the world. a female child should be under the guardianship of father. The property they acquire belongs to the man to whom they belong (cited in Subedi 2009) and the male member of the family is responsible to provide gift at daughter/sister’s wedding and to bear the wedding cost in the name of women’s rights to property (Pandey 2009:282). divorced women and widows needed consent from their adult sons. unmarried women needed permission from father/brother. a daughter was entitled to parental property. Otherwise.e. women needed the consent of men to dispose the inherited property i. a daughter and slave will not get any However. Likewise. Unlike Sons. according to Manu is that. deeply influenced by Hindu philosophy (Kandel 2005). the law was amended in 1964 (still guides Nepal’s land reform legislation). However. .

religion…or other status.18 Only in 1995. Article 2 of UDHR-1948. . After 1990. The role of various women’s organizations and other civil society organizations has brought the issues on forefront of Nepal’s political debate. Article 26 of ICCPR-1966. The constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal.coparcener of the ancestral property (Adhikari 2011). International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR-1966) in1991 and International Covenant on Economic. 18 All of these articles ensure the right to equality and implies no distinction or discrimination among citizens on grounds of race.17 The ratification also encouraged women’s organizations and were also organized and promoted by donors to demand for the abolition of all forms of discriminations based on sex and highlighted the issues of equal parental property and property rights for women (Ibid). Meera Dhungana and Meera Khanal filed a case in the Supreme Court (SC) in 1993 against Muluki Ain on partition share that discriminated women against property right (Subedi 2009:45). the court gave a verdict to introduce a Bill to the Parliament within a year that would guarantee women’s rights to property (Rana 2007) rather than taking a sudden decision. Nepal signed Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW-1979) in 1991. language. The petitioners claimed that section 1 and 16 of the partition share inconsistence with Article 11 (2) of The Constitution of Kingdom of Nepal-1990. it has long been contentious issues in Nepal. Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR-1966) in 1990 (Subedi 2010). requested the SC to give women equal rights over property (Ibid). This indicates that one of the biggest hindrances to women’s economic development and empowerment was the absence of legal provisions that guarantees women equal property rights (Rana 2007).18 - 17 . 1990 was promulgated after the restoration of democratic system but again it only granted partial property rights for women. Article 3 of ICESCR-1966 and Article 1. the government of Nepal (GON) has also ratified various United Nations conventions that aim at protecting and promoting the rights of women (Pandey 2002). colour. 15 and 16 of CEDAW-1979 and therefore. sex. Yet.

However. Struggles over land often take place on the local level. within communities and families with the help of women’s organizations. but discrimination related to property and family law continues on the basis of sex by government (Sigi 2009). The old Ain was amended this way. The Bill was passed after 8 years on October 2001 by majority of the house. The Lower House diverted the bill to the foreign and human rights committee and then to the Law and Justices committee for the discussion. Women’s Property Right Bill was drafted by the Ministry of Women and Social welfare and was tabled in the House of Representatives (Lower House) for discussion. widows can claim on joint property and need not be forfeited if she remarries (elaborated in figure 1. the bill was passed in March 2002 with a tricky decision made by the opposition party to vote for the Bill with reservation. However. As per the directive of SC. prevented daughters to hold the partition . Pandey 2002). and the bill was sent to the king for approval which came into effect from 27th September 2002 (Ibid). female are now recognized as being rightful inheritors. Currently.1 of appendix II). the Upper House rejected the bill and referred back to the Lower House for reconsideration. for instance. it remained untouched for six years and there was not any hearing on it. There was a risk among women activists and women’s organizations that the Bill will not be passed again and might take years to go through another round of discussion (Ibid. After much struggles. which did not recognize the equal right of sons or daughters to inherit property after marriage. Under this law.The verdict not only aroused huge controversy and debates in Nepal but it also helped to advance nationwide women’s movement (Ibid). wives qualify for equal husband’s property immediately after marriage. There was a huge demonstration by women rights activists to pressurize GON to pass the Bill. It has.19 - . The new amended Ain expanded the ownership of land by adding daughter as heirs from birth.

recently GON gave 10% tax rebate in 2006. On the other hand. The highlighted negative impacts. In order to increase women’s access to land. In general. but. confidence. long and cumbersome processes. experience and resources to obtain what they are legally entitled to in local level (Benchop 2004. it is still unsatisfactory compared to the urban men. Women right to property is meant both rights in law and practice and is introduced for the empowerment of women (Subedi 2009) yet.share after marriages. problem of broken home children and challenge to find partners for poor girls (Kandel 2005). were: valuation of property than daughter. Neither daughters nor wives/widows receive any property in practice. Although the legal status of women seems strong. Thus a number of women having ownership in cities and district headquarters have increased (ibid).20 - . women face enormous challenges because of the prevailing traditional customs and beliefs. Many women lack information. There is still the lack of awareness among men and women that denies women’s rights on the ground. women can go to the court when their rights are challenged but the accessibility of court for women is severely limited in practice (Kadel 2005) due to court fees. sex-selective abortion. there have been no significant changes in their lives because of an extreme gap between law and practice. the land is still automatically transferred to male family members (Shrestha 2009). . land transferred to women increased to 20% in 2007 and 25% in cities (Shrestha 2009) and 30% in rural areas in 2009 (Upreti 2011b). for example. family breakups for property. intensifies divorce. The issues about property right took long for guarantying legal rights for women on property. if the bill is to adopt. The arguments were made that the society was not ready and mostly negative impacts were highlighted. geographical distance. Consequently. as courts are in towns and often takes years to get justices (Ibid). Rana 2007). land fragmentation.

21 - 19 . But what does empowerment mean in reference to property ownership? Empowerment is an abstract and complex concept and it is interpreted in many ways. literacy. empowerment derives from the term I expected to finish conducting the survey in two weeks but it took almost a month just because of the term empowerment (Sashaktikaran) in Nepali which was unfamiliar to grassroots women including those who have been to university. empowerment is relatively a new concept but very attractive and strongly articulated goal of development interventions in recent years. in which strengthening women’s economic status integrated with education. income generation and access to credit and empowerment through integrated rural development programs and policies. In Nepal. 19 In common understanding. Various actors regarded policies. However. . Please refer Appendix I (table 1. empowerment is the process of change which provides power to powerless. provision of basic needs and services and reproductive health (Panda 2000). According to the Random House Dictionary.1) for more details about respondents. the emphasis is often on the ideas of processes leading to broader outcomes. The empowerment programs introduced both by the government and non-government are focused mainly on the empowerment through economic interventions to improve economic condition of women through employment. which is still very unfamiliar and ambiguous word for common people to understand. When the term empowerment is used. I had to change the term empowerment into something called women’s equality (Mahila Samanata\ Mahila Swadhinata). still today women’s economic activities are less valued than men. The literally translated term (Empowerment) in Nepali is Sashaktikaran. Thus. It has been the central agenda for both government and women’s organizations. laws and programs to be effective in women’s empowerment.Linkage of Land Entitlement with Empowerment After decades of struggle to secure equal property rights to sons and daughters and women’s right to property to empower women in Nepal.

In practical term. alternative power base that is independent of domination of men and autonomy to give more power for women. DFID (2000) clearly defines empowerment as ‘individuals acquiring the power to think and act freely. women’s empowerment is defined as women’s ability to make their own lives better in an individual level and later for collective actions in communities (Jackson 2010). however. empowerment would mean the process of challenging existing inequality. the voices of all the country’s citizens including women must not only be heard. power relations and of gaining greater control over sources of power by the under-privileged.empower which means ‘to give power or authority’ and ‘to enable or permit’. However Mahmud and Johnsten (1994) focus more on the decision making power.22 - . Sharma (2011) noted that gender equality and women’s empowerment can only be . exercise choice and to fulfill their potential as full and equal members of society’. but also listened to (Ibid). However. power with. a feminist perspective would emphasize that only women themselves can be agents of such a process of change and power is defined in relation to empowerment. women with women. men and wider community because power can take various forms as power to. From an empowerment perspective. Human Development Report (HDR) on empowerment and poverty reduction (2004) pointed out that empowerment advances poor by broadening human capabilities and improving the distribution of productive assets like land and credit. Likewise. The power for women can be achieved through the process of challenging existing power relation and gaining greater control over the sources of power (Batliwala 1994). However. power over and power within. Nepal is a traditional society. where the notion of power is embedded in the patriarchal nature of the culture: reinforcing male supremacy and control over women to uphold family honor with conformity to accepted behavioral norms which limits women’s life choices.

Luitel (2001). therefore.achieved through equal opportunities to participate in and influence political and economic decisions.23 - . equal political. however. . civil. claims that empowering women through ownership without educating women and changing the mindset of people would just be another political propaganda rather than a tool to benefit because majority of women face impediment to enjoy their property rights. Property laws are very difficult to the full implementation because of the pervasive social norms prevalent since centuries that emphasize on access through male members of the family rather than actual ownership. power to make decision at household level and equal access to and control of resources and benefits (Panda 20000. persistent cultural and customary attitudes. mainly remains illusory rather than substantive. I will analyze the empowerment of women through property ownership. The ability to control one’s own life and valued resources including land by respecting other’s rights are keys to the empowerment theory (Jackson 2010). however. exercising and monitoring their human rights. In the next two chapters. equal consideration. Women’s right in grassroots level. insist that women should be freely allowed claiming. The denial of equal parental property right for daughters is a denial of human rights that undermines the dignity and even the worth of individuals (Williamson 2006) Although laws increasingly recognize women’s right to property. Sharma 2011). Feminists. valuation and favoring of needs and aspirations. economic and social rights. Subedi (2010:17) highlights that the system of patriarchy and its manifestations in Nepal restricts and limits women’s access to and control over resources which is barrier to empowerment. and religious laws expect a Nepalese daughter to relinquish her right to inherit land to her brother.

. women’s land owners constitute 41% (n=100) of the sample. UNDP 2004). Alexander 1997. Steinzor 2003.e.CHAPTER 3 LAND ENTITLEMENT. Enlightened Husband and Women’s Ownership on Land20 Property can be acquired by purchase or transmission through gift or inheritance Cheneval (2006:13). and to what extent.8%) with children (details in Appendix I table 1. land ownership encourages women to invest on their education and their children’s education. Women in my survey indicate that women rarely (2%) afford to buy the land and the vast majority of women (96%) usually acquire Not all educated husband understand their wife. the reader has to keep in mind that “Enlightened Husband” means Understanding and Educated husband. in Nepal can acquire power and prestige through her husband.2%) or widows (9. which leads to the empowerment process. It is worth noting that land owners are either married (90. for instance. Luitel 2001. Therefore. a daughter status depends on father’s prestige and so on.24 - 20 .1). There are various aspects in determining the relationship of land ownership and education which leads to the empowerment process. father/brother/husband) (Agarwal 1994. In this study. This study has tried to find this relationship. The growing empirical data have proved that property is a part of social relations. Married women. wherein women’s access to land frequently determines in relation to family members especially male because their status is frequently determine in relation to family members especially male (i. EDUCATION AND EMPOWERMENT This chapter examines whether.

The below regression figure (1. whereas in rare case through parents and own and housing only after marital status. What is even more striking is that.1).5). see annex I table 1.25 - .e. Among those who own land.1) shows the relationship between women’s land entitlement and family relation. although legally eligible. Figure 1. do not inherit property as a daughter. 31(76%) of them have acquired land with the help of husband.9x+17.2) of the survey outcomes shows that the correlation coefficient of the first case (y=-1. husband’s education unknown (as told by . a significant number of women (i. which indicates that generally marital status determines female’s access to land and other form of property and ownership depends on good marital and family relations.1: Women’s land acquisition through family members. Data from the survey shows that mostly women have security of land tenure as wives and daughter-in-law. more than 90% of women. followed by 8 (20%) with in-laws and only 1 (2%) each by parents and women themselves. The above figure (1. There might be several factors (as discussed in previous two chapters) that relinquish women’s access to land.

2: Enlightened Husband and Women’s Ownership on Land r2 value is a measure of goodness-of-fit of linear regression.0 and 1.32% women’s land ownership might be explain in relation to husband education. the higher the husband’s education is. which has value between 0.65. The r2 value of first case indicate that only 11.1132.0.21 However.0 means X does not relate to Y and have no linear relationship between X and Y.0 means X perfectly relates to Y and makes straight line (For more see Barron & Kim 1997). whereas. empowerment through land ownership might be possible when husbands are enlightened.women respondents) and women’s land ownership is 0. An r Value of 0. It creates the higher possibility for women to be empowered.34. whereas the second case indicate that 65% women’s land ownership might be explained in relation to husband education.6x+13) husband with higher level of education and women’s land entitlement is 0. the higher chances women have in order to acquire land with the help of husband and vice versa. 2 21 .4211. r2 equals 1. In other words. Figure 1. the correlation coefficient of second case (y=-1. whereas r2 value is 0. whereas r2 value is 0.26 - . Thus.

the survey has revealed that a husband’s potential support is important for bringing changes in women’s lives in Nepal. men may make decisions as to how the land is to be used. It can limit women’s knowledge of laws and legal rights.e. There is a need of a further study to understand the problems. overall self-confidence. Hur 2006. Higher education). their physical mobility. women will have little to say over how land is used to generate income or to support families (elaborated in chapter 4). Freire 1973. The importance of education noted by the women in this research cannot be over emphasized. Scientific and . when the husbands have highest level of education (i. Nonetheless. In other words. household bargaining power. almost similar to husbands who have never been to school. their access to information on new agricultural technologies practices. Subedi 2010:52. As Agarwal (1994) noted. illiteracy is likely to adversely affect women’s ability to claim and control land. However. they may lease it and even force their women to sell it (Rose 1992. Subedi 2010). their ability to deal with administrative and legal procedures in relation to land claims. and autonomy in decision making (Ibid). Kandel 2002. 2004). their wives land ownership is sinking down. UNDP. Investment of Land in Education There are considerable numbers of evidences that access to education plays an essential role in women’s empowerment (Acharya 1999. which will accelerate the advancement of women.Some argues that when the ownership is acquired with the help of male relatives. There might be several factors that discourage wives to own land ownership.27 - . Through the potential of education. the United Nations Educational. Even in 1960s. one may develop abilities to make choices to improve life from actual powerlessness (Jackson 2010).

Since then. economic. Freire (1973) suggested a plan for liberating the oppressed people through education. feeling of inadequacy and inferiority and build their confidence and skills and liberty from readymade answer that are given by the patriarchal society. the studies revealed that women’s land ownership with higher education has positive correlation with women’s willingness to invest land for their and their children’s education in the future. Through education.28 - . a single person becomes educated. overall 20 (48. the more higher education the women with land ownership have. education also encourages women to condense their fear. The need for education was emphasized in relation to power. capacity and an awareness of one’s status and opportunities to transform in social. education is a primary tool of empowerment to develop skills. oppressed people can become active change of agents by understanding existing social stratification. which was an origin of empowerment as a theory. There is a famous proverb if a man is educated. a whole family becomes educated. On the other hand. In other word.78%) respondents were willing to invest their land in education. Education facilitates a person to think critically. Women’s education not only benefits her but to the entire family (respondents of the survey). illiteracy was considered as major hazardous of life and obstacle to development. the more they are willing to invest their land in . but if a woman is educated. interpret his/her life and develop a new paradigm for improvement (Jackson 2010). environment and societies (Ibid). Among those forty-one women who hold land ownership.Cultural Organization (UNESCO) highlighted education as fundamental human right (cited in Luitel 1996). During that period. While looking at the details of the result. norms and oppression and encouraging others to build confident to manifest power towards achieving social equality and liberation (Hur 2006). cultural and political aspects of life.

sell. It is not because they are not convinced about the value of their children’s education but of the matter of cost ties with education.3 illustrates the strong positive relation between property right and for them as well as for their children.22 Figure 1. generally rural women have no role to make decision regarding children’s education. cultivate. mortgage. and bequeath when necessary (Agarwal 1994). However. the survey reveals that women with land are more conscious for their education as well as the schooling of children and have begun to discuss about education with their male partner.3: Women’s Willingness to invest Land in Education Figure 1. However.29 22 . Four (80%) out of five respondent who attended higher education say that they are willing to invest their land in education followed by 7 (70%) with secondary Ownership means the rights to possess. It shows that land ownership does not transfer one individual life at a time but will transform the whole family and gradually the entire society. .

Money. join formal source of . with primary or informal education and 4(33. Land Ownership.. Women can even continue her education after marriage. when respondents were asked to rate the best ways to empower women from 1 to 7 (1 refer to the highest priority and 7 refer to lowest priority). 3 (25%) of them were not sure whether to invest land for their educational purpose because of the several factors e.g. reduce women’s economic dependency on male members. The respondents think that education will help to protect dignity of women and ultimately empower them. The respondents reemphasized the importance of education by mentioning that neither any one can steal one’s knowledge. The land ownership and education seems to be mutually enforcing and crucial for empowerment of women. lack of confidence. 4. They think that education will help them to identify what is wrong and what is right. 6. for details see Appendix II figure 1.30 - . Whereas.2). It is also highly likely that the impact of education on males and females can have positive impact on women’s empowerment. In the study. 2. Enlightened Husband and 7. increment of family disputes etc. It will also help to intensify economic prosperity through employment and involvement in decision making in communities. The reason given was that education will increase knowledge on socialeconomic. 5 (35.3%) who have never been to school. 3. political and legal institutions. Among those 12 who have never been to school and have land ownership. followed by 10 as enlightened husband (1. issue on control over land. there will be no restriction for social mobility and receive a support for women’s work. the reason for choosing as enlightened husband was that if women have enlightened husband. nor can one get involved in productive activities without it. Social Reforms. 5. Employment. 70 (n=100) of them think that education is the best way to empower women. Income Generation programs. her voice can be heard within family.

The following chapter will discuss and analyze on how one’s autonomy on land and resources empowers women. . own property and have full autonomy on the resources they generate.31 - .employment.

equality. 2 and 17. prohibition of harmful use and residuary rule (Cited in Kumar 1985 ). article R. Even under international human rights law. efficiency. article. employment. CEDAW. to use. Honore` (1961) defines property ownership as: the rights to possess. the more chances for the individual to be empowered. political and empowerment (TKP 2010). According to one school of thought. welfare. to manage. the possession of critical elements to effectively and efficiently undertake desired activity and absence of unsolicited influences in decision making. women rights are secured to own and control property without discrimination (UDHR. However.23 This chapter examines whether women’s control over land is related to their household decision making position and access to investment. owning property is part and parcel of the autonomy and ethical integration of the person. Autonomy is generally attributed to be important for empowerment. autonomy refers to freedom of action.32 23 . Higher the level of autonomy. . AUTONOMY AND EMPOWERMENT Individual autonomy can be understood as one’s ability to govern own self and live the life independently and on one’s own desire without any impose from others (John 2011). absence of term. to capital and to security and the incident of transmissibility. According to Panda (2000). which creates a sense of responsibility and dignity and puts a person in a position to be autonomous and generous to others (Cheneval 2006:13). its prime focus is to discuss the gap between ownership and control over land and examines women’s ability to retain. liability to execute for debt. control over the transfer and use of land.CHAPTER4 LAND ENTITLEMENT. M. to the income. Women’s Autonomy for the use of Land Nepal Institute of Development Studies (NIDS) considers women’s ownership and full control over land as one of the major steps in women’s economic independence.

and to an equal treatment in land and agrarian reform (CEDAW. controlled and manipulated in family because it determines who enjoys and benefits of land and who does not (Agarwal 1994). Within the family. article 14(2)(g)). acquisition. Control over property includes ability to decide the use of land. land for sold.33 - . strong sense of family togetherness often involves complex decision negotiations (Furuta and Salway 2006) in countries like Nepal. rent or destroy it. enjoyment and disposition of property (CEDAW. there should be clear distinction between access to land and control over it. . lease out and dispose and provides a measure for security whereas access can mean concessions granted by individual to close kin for the use of the land but do not necessarily have rights to lease. both spouses have equal rights in the ownership. Whether just women’s access to land can be called as women’s ownership to land. Even in grassroots level. management. article 16). administration. Moreover. It is thus very crucial to understand how land is managed.15). is a question to ponder. mostly land in relation to women is emphasized on women’s access through male member (as discussed in chapter 3) rather than control over land. However.

Experts contend that property (land) ownership contain right to exclude others from the use and benefit of what one owns (Shachar & Hirschl 2007:263). quarrel. while measuring the women’s involvement in the final decision is much more suitable than measuring woman as a sole decision maker. It shows that if females do not cooperate with the male members either father\brother\ husband. the closeness of the husband-wife bond is an important dimension of women’s position. in-laws. insidious and quash. son. In the given circumstances. husband-wife decide together) (Figure 1. Similarly 10% women prefer not to answer the question for whatever reasons and 5% decide on rice plantation with the help of others i.e. Rest of the respondents said that they are unable to decide solely because of the fear of disdain. Therefore. only those (five) women found to be widows with small children and living separately have the control. she cannot sell. brother. UNDP 2004). rent or otherwise transfer it without the consent of her spouse or sons as shown in the growing empirical literatures (Agrawal 1994. where 51% of respondents decide in rice plantation together (i. and quest among family members.Figure 1. parents. The survey of this study reveals that only 5 out of 41 women who own the land have full control over land and said that they can sell the land without any consultation (Figure 1. However.e. feud. The outcomes of the survey also reveals that women depend critically on subsistence farming with the help of their family members especially husband.5). contention.4). they might . the survey suggests that even if a wife owns the property with the help of husband. And most interestingly.4: Women’s decision making in rice plantation The above diagram suggests that only 27% out of 41 women with land entitlement have sole decision making in rice plantation and are either widows or women whose husbands are working beyond borders.34 - .

It means women have less power to decide on the use. For more see (Bista 2011). and control and transfer of land.24 This study found that more than 80% of women’s land owners are unable to sell land without anyone consultation although women’s right to access. was cast out by her father after she asked her share of property when her father hesitates to finance her education (Bista 2011). Out of which 78% says that they cannot sell land. 7% were not sure whether they can sell their land by themselves and 3% prefer not to answer the question (Figure cast out and no one seems to be out there for them. wealth and It is said to be the first property rights case lodged by an unmarried girl demanding parental property.5). ownership and control of land is firmly recognized under statutory national law. Ambika an unmarried girl. they are legally entitle to it.35 - 24 . property. although. for instance. . Figure 1.5: Women’s Decision to sell land without anyone consults The Relationship between Women with Land Ownership and Decision Making Power The ability to influence others may derive from personality.

This study also suggests in conformity to the study of Farha. considerable number of women. What is even more interesting is that majority (44 out of 59) of women without land ownership also believe that land ownership could increase women’s decision making (Figure 1.36 - . Evidences also suggest that land ownership increases the intrafamily bargaining power and empower women by increasing their control over household decision making position in a family (Allendorf 2007.influential status and often might related with economics and politics of the nature of class (Jackson 2010). However.6). . Cotula 2006:21). Thirty-three (n=41) of women holding land believe that land ownership enhances their decision making position in family. Allendrof and Cotula that land ownership enhances women’s decision making position within household. although some (6 out of 41) of the women who own land are not sure whether land entitlement enhanced their decision making position (Figure 1. who do have land think that land ownership do not enhance women’s decision making position.6). The research by Farha (1999) also discloses that ownership of land for women increases their status in the community and bargaining power in the family. There might be several constraints in terms of the cultural and traditional taboos.

twenty. except perhaps bodily integrity. and the person who has no assets has nothing to bargain with. thirty-three of them think that their decision making position within the family has improved. independence of spirit (Rose 1992:453). a form of assets and lack bargaining power.6: Enhancement of women’s decision Making Position through Land Ownership Agrawal (1994) claims that women with some land tend to be better looked by family members and might have their voice heard in the family. The study revealed that out of 41. Rose noted the vulnerability of women who do not have any form of assets: One who cannot acquire and own property can have no assets. Among the 100 survey respondents of this study. 59 do not hold any land. thirty-one women with land ownership experienced that land ownership has increased their confidence. Majority of women without land believe that land ownership might develope women’s ability to influence in household decision making position and ultimately empower them (Figure 1.6).37 - . attachments to friends and family and ultimately.Figure 1.

three of them have felt that they have been socially and economically empower and 23 said that they are less likely to be economically vulnerable after the land entitlement (Figure 1. Access to Investment and Management of Income Hernando De Soto (1989. 2000) argues that land titling is important in promoting prosperity.7). Land certificate in Nepal is a prerequisite for securing loans from building a house to starting a business and can be the basis for income generation and sustenance . which stifles economic development. However. He identifies that insecured property rights weakens the incentives for owners to make long term investments and hinders the ability of owners to use their property as collateral to secure loans to financial capital investment.7: women’s empowerment and land ownership The above figure (1.7) portrays the linkage of land ownership and empowerment.38 - . five women with land entitlement think that land ownership has not brought significant positive changes in their lives. Figure 1.

Culture and social barriers however severely undermine women for access. many studies suggest that their ability to use land as collateral for loan is very much thwarted by the embedded cultural norms of family and societal institutions (Agarwal 1994. whereas. businesses and financial institutions might avoid long-term investment (cited in Williamson 2011). Bushell 2008.(Steinzor 2003). Although women have legal rights to land. Aneeta who decided to take loan from a bank in Kathmandu. the capital city of Nepal. which show that land titling does not increase the level of investment and capital formation much (2011:103). Soto 1989. The land ownership has encouraged many women to involve in financial transactions including borrowing loan from the bank and other financial institutions but there is still a consent that there should be at least one male to stand as a witnesses before taking a loan which do not require for male borrowers. present the deed to her land but was . who have access (TKP 2012). Access to finance is critical for both men and women for successful high-technology vegetables farming and agricultural production (Ibid). He concludes that land title positively influences the level of investment (Ibid). Williamson examines the effects of land titling based on growing empirical literatures on economic development and finds out the disputes between the relationship of land titling and investment. A recent study revealed that about 20% of the population has had access to commercial bank loans in 2004 (UNDP 2004) and merely women comprised 5% out of the total borrowers. men and women have equal access to credit through the use of land as collateral. It is said that economic vulnerability could cause a woman to relinquish her claim on property because of lack of financial means to exercise her rights (Agarwal 1994).39 - . individuals. From a theoretical perspective. Several studies hold that in the absence of land certificate. there are also some findings. For instance. 2000).

buying nutritious food for family. . Out of 41 women with land ownership. Bennett (1981:94) argues that if women are unable to obtain credit for agricultural inputs. Whether this represents national picture is still to be studied.40 - .8). 23 of them said that they use the income of the land for family.asked by the bank the person to appear with her husband and was only given loan after signing by her husband although the land was in her land (Cited in Ibid). This study has found that none of the women who took part in this survey and own land use the income from land for saving. Interestingly six women spend income for education. the land they cultivate will be less economically productive and may result in women contributing less to rural economies. followed by 7 who also spend their income for nutritious food for the family and 5 of them said that they use the income for the education. This study of Mrigauliya VDCreveals that women have only limited access to resources and limited control over land but they spent their income mostly for the family (Figure 1. It might be because women spend most of their income for the family purpose or might have less cultivated land.

In the figure 1. the empowerment of women through land ownership might be described this way (Figure 1. lack of education.Figure 1.9: Empowerment of women through land ownership (Based on the survey findings) Rural women in most developing countries including Nepal face specific constraints in terms of cultural and traditional taboos. it indicates that By disempowered women are mostly underprivileged women from rural areas.9. management skills.41 - .emerging from patrilineal inheritance to patrilocal residence. technology and land resources (Karl 1995). and access to capital.9). granting land ownership to those women. Figure 1.8: Management of Income from Land To recapitulate the overall findings of the survey. it will grant the right to land and have legal .

which means women will have access to and control over land.42 - . education and information including legal awareness and source of income.recognition of women. Granting the land to women is expected to increase their household decision making. which will lead to the process of women’s empowerment. The next chapter will summarize the overall of the dissertation. . it will help to change in role and responsibilities of men and women. entrepreneurship and business. This outcome may not be surprising because it is after all what has been assumed to be but the situation might be much more complex than we have ever imagined. In a larger context.

often consider that it is their prerogative to use women’s assets without women’s consent in many cases irrespective of legal provision. it can be argued that property ownership is one of the many tools that can be used to improve women’s status. Indeed. programs and activities to promote social and economic development of women. for instance. rural women are often unaware of their legal rights. lack of dissemination of legal information to the public. livelihood and sustainable assets. From the previous chapters. paying lawyers and court fees. There might be a need to restructure the societal mind through formal and informal educational programs simultaneously with legal reform. they often lack the resources necessary to claim which involve access to court. Men. It is important for the government to conduct informational campaigns and disseminate information among public including the financial institutions to practice equitable treatment of women clients. wealth. together with other policies. Even when they do know about their rights. Access to courts is necessary to enforce the rights enshrined in the constitution as well as in various international documents Nepal is a party. The effective control might be barricaded by multiple obstacles such as entrenchment of customary practice. . This study has primarily analyzed the women’s empowerment in reference to property entitlement.CHAPTER 5 CONCLUDING REMARKS Land is most valued source of production. The survey of this study discloses that 41% of women own land but self-control over land is rare.43 - . pressure of relatives or by their social context. A major obstacle seems in my study is the lack of more gender sensitive lenses to consider the complexity of issues surrounding women and the achievement of women’s empowerment in the Nepalese society.

the extent of economic vulnerability. On the basis of the survey findings. c. b. awareness of legal rights and e.44 - . poverty. systems of patrilineal descent. women’s level of education. the constitution writing process is going on. special measures to advance women’s empowerment process are necessary to achieve de facto gender equality. illiteracy and prevailing socio-cultural and economic factors. d.The analysis of the survey shows that despites the legislative provisions for addressing equality and empowerment issues. The low status of women. To the thesis writing time. . women still have inadequate access to and control over resources due to weak governance. The new constitution should incorporate the aspirations of oppressed and backward classes including women. Indeed. the extent of male support. I conclude that land ownership of women empower them but the prospect of women exercising their rights to property would depend on five factors in no order: a. patri-local residence and rules of inheritance have also subordinated women throughout the country. the strength of norms and practice.

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Moreover.e.2%) of women who owns land are married.8%) are single.9%) and higher secondary education i. the highest numbers of respondents holding land entitlement are in 21-40 years age group i.1%) and age unknown i. Age groups and Level of Education after Survey Marital status of the respondents shows that 37 (90. . 3 (7.2%).2%). 9 (21. 16 (39.e.1: Classification of Respondents by Marital status. 14 (34. 25 Here single women should understand as either widow or married women living separately without husband. secondary education i.e. 15 (36.7%) followed by over 41 years age group i.APPENDIX I Table 1.e.e. 25 With regards to age of respondents. and 4 (9.3%).6%) women with either primary or informational education possess land. thereafter women with no education i. 5 (12.54 - . 20 (48.e.

1: Sequence of the Property after 11th Amendment of Muluki Ain (Based on the Ain text cited in Sangroula and Pathak 2002) * = Person who died.Appendix II Figure 1. A= Husband B= Wife C= Son D= Widow Daughter in Law E= Unmarried Daughter F=Son’s Son (Grand Son) G=Son’s Unmarried Daughter (Grand Daughter) H=Married Daughter I= Daughter’s Son J= Daughters Unmarried Daughter K= Successor according to law .55 - .

56 - .2: Based ways to empower women (Based on Survey) .Appendix II Figure 1.

3: Women’s Status through Land Entitlement (Based on respondents (41) who hold land ownership in the survey) .Appendix II Figure 1.57 - .

7. Please try to be honest while answering the questions. Myself d. In the context of Nepal. No 16. I listed but father/husband/brother decide b. Parents D. Higher Secondary d. Myself B. The information you have shared with me will be solely for my Master dissertation purpose and will be keep very confidential. House c.. How did you own the property? A. NO 8. Daughter………….years old 5. parents e. In-laws C. Co-owns C. Who decide whether or not to buy certain foods? A. Don’t know 3. Marital Status (please circle the appropriate answer) a. It is also completely voluntary. Husband E. Secondary c. Myself B.. Others 6. building. Thank you so much for your valuable time.52 - . For instance.APPENDIX III: Survey Questionnaires in English My name is Sunita Basnet and I am doing Master course in South Korea. In-laws C. Others 12. Inherit B. I am conducting this survey in the fulfillment of my master dissertation. others 15. Primary b. How do you manage the school fee of your children? Please specify the source of income……… 10. All E. own means legally hold property. Who pay for the foods? A. No C. Myself B. Land is part of property but not all property are land. Name: Age: Address: Name of family head: Education level: (Please skip the questions that does not relate to you. Both d. Others 19. . Please list all what you have as a property in your name? A. How old where you when you get married? …………. Yes B. Number of children: a. Parents D. Father/Husband’s Profession: Please specify the job………………… 4. Do you own any property? A. Are they enrolling in a school? A. Separated (Divorced) d. Who decide what to buy and what not to buy in special occasions like Durga Puja/Tihar? a. Who helped you to own property? 26 For the purpose of this survey. In-laws C. Who initiated the idea to buy foods for family? A. Others 14. In-laws C. Yes B. Yes B. Who manage the school fee of your children? ……………. Land b. Who decide where to send your children for their education? A. Son……………. both decide c. University e. No 17. Myself D. investment in Share capital are also understand as property. Never married 2. Husband E./Verbal agreement/finger print……………. Single (widow) b. Married c. Have you ever give birth to a child? A.) 1. Others 9. Signature of interviewer…………………. b. Others 13. Husband D. Husband/father’s level of education: a. Husband F. Do any of your house members own any agricultural land?26 A. 11. Myself B.. Yes B. Saving. Others 18. Parents E.. Never attended f.

What will you do if you were to leave the house for certain days for any reason? a. No 21. whom do you have to get permission to buy/sell your property? A. Who decide what to plant in your land? A. the social status remain same I have received property from my parents.53 - . Others 22. Others 24. Consult parents/husband b. Husband D. I don’t know D. Please rate to what extend do you agree with following statement. Saving E. No C. myself B. No one E. What do you think will happen if you don’t get person’s permission? …………………………………………………………………………………… 25. Parents B. In-Laws C. Together D. Parents/husband C. Others 20. I don’t prefer to say 23. Will you be willing to use property for you/ your children’s education? A. Education B. Yes B. Property ownership helps women to develop confidence Property ownership has improved the socioeconomic empowerment of women in my community Property ownership is just an urban phenomenon Traditional norms and values poses a serious threat for daughters to owns property from parents property ownership enhanced women’s participation and decision making level in their family and in the society My husband/father-in-law/father decides about my/ children/siblings education The present legal efforts have failed to acknowledge factors that inhibit us from having control over resources Property ownership helps us to have dignity and respected life in our family and community Property ownership helps to access information and resources. Buying nutritious food C.A. Parents B. All please specify 27. Where do you spend your income from property? A. Others 26. decide myself d. consult with in-laws c. All E. Yes B. I have inherited the same amount of parental property as my brother. Can you sell your property without anyone consent? A. Other the best Strongl y Disagr ee Although the number of property ownership among women in my community increases. Tick mark answer that describes/suites your opinion Topic related to patriarchy and property ownership among Women in Mrigauliya Strongl y Agree Agr ee Neither agree nor disagree Dis agr ee e. Husband C. Family shopping D. If not. In-Laws D. .

54 - . Employment/opportunities 4. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Others (Please specify) 29. Income Generation programs 3. Best Way to Empower Women Rate 1. whereas 7 is the lowest priority. once she is married . Why do you think that above factors is essential to empower women? Please be specific as much as you can. Unmarried daughter has to return the remaining property. 30.Women with land entitlement are less likely to become economically vulnerable I will give/ have given the equal proportion of my property for my son and daughter 28. Married daughter receive property from the parents Wife get equal portion of property from her husband Widows do not receive property from her in-laws if she does not have any child. 1 refers to the highest priority. Changing the traditional norms and Values 6. Enlightened Husband 7. Land Ownership 5. What is a best way to empower women? Please rate from 1-7 according to your priority. Money 8. Education 2. Please tick the appropriate answer related with current legal provision on women’s property ownership.. Topic Yes No I don’t I don’t Know care Married daughter receive equal proportion of property as unmarried daughter from her father.

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