Building the movement for women’s land rights

Congratulations! This Entry has been selected as a finalist.

Building the movement for women’s land rights

Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

SRREOSHI acts to improve the status of women by defining and establishing property rights for women in the state of West Bengal, India. In facilitating the provision of title – patta – to vested lands for both groups of women and individual women, SRREOSHI acts to improve the control of resources by women, with corresponding positive impacts on women’s well-being and society as a whole.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In most Indian families, women do not own property in their own names, and do not inherit a share of parental property. This occurs in spite of the fact that a large proportion of women in India work in agriculture. Although the state of West Bengal is recognized as a pioneer among Indian states in implementing land reform measures to benefit share croppers and in redistributing surplus land to the landless, these measures have largely failed to target women. Measures to improve the property rights of women have met with political opposition, particularly in the identification of vested lands and the allocation of such land to women’s groups. In some cases, family members have objected to women gaining control over land, thereby shifting the balance of power in the household.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

SRREOSHI is empowering landless women by working with women’s groups and individual women to obtain title to vested lands from the Indian government. These women are brought together through capacity building exercises and legal training to become communal title holders for vested land in India. Women are also provided with the training, technical support, and agricultural capital to help ensure their success in agricultural production.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

By receiving title to land the women in SRREOSHI’s programs have gained not only control over resources but a level of confidence and dignity which has increased their participation in household and community decision making. The women have developed a sense of community by working collectively with other women in groups. Many of the women involved formerly worked as migrant stone crushers; these women were subject to long commutes to work, sexual abuse at work sites, and dangerous work practices. Access to land has reduced female labour migration and reduced the level of violence against them; it has also increased the level of sustainable agricultural output and improved household nutrition. SRREOSHI has worked to achieve actual land ownership for women. At Gopalpur village 1.25 acres of vested land has already been acquired by a group of women; these groups have also applied for government funding to work this land. Another group of 30 tribal women has applied for patta for another piece of land. At Radhavollabpur village 23 tribal women have applied for patta on 1.25 acres of leased land; these women have leased and cultivated this land for a very long time.
About You
Section 1: About You
First Name


Last Name



, WB

Section 2: About Your Organization
Is your initiative connected to an established organization?

Organization Name


Organization Phone


Organization Address

189, R.K.Avenue,Durgapur- 713204, Dist: Burdwan

Organization Country

, WB

How long has this organization been operating?

1‐5 years

Your idea
Country your work focuses on
Do you have a patent for this idea?


Establishment of capacity building and training exercises for women: they have improved the awareness of issues related to women’s land, sustainable farming and property rights, and have helped to build a sense of community among women – a challenge in a society where women have largely been isolated in their familial roles.
SRREOSHI has also pursued vigorous advocacy efforts, meeting and working with local government bodies to ensure their support in our activities; our support for group patta, which enable groups of women to obtain title to land have stronger success rates than individual titles. We also continue to advocate for the implementation of the Forest Act, which would entitle tribal women to receive land title from the government.
We have also worked with the federal government to merge work carried out with the NREGA Act, which offers women and men 100 days of work per year at a government-determined wage level. SRREOSHI has shown that NREGA can positively impact women's labor.

On an operational level, we work with both individual women and tribal families to obtain titles to vested land.


SRREOSHI has been instrumental in the formation of approximately 100 working groups, each consisting of 10-15 women. While SRREOSHI motivates and mobilizes women to secure their rights to land, the groups are largely self-functioning. Group members put pressure on the local administration and government by applying for government land in the name of women’s groups or individual women.

SRREOSHI has organized an annual series of ‘Lok Adalat’, which is a system of alternative dispute resolution in India and roughly translates as a “People’s Court”. The latest ‘Lok Adalat’ was held on 30 June, 2010 at Chatna, Bankura district to discuss various cases related to violence against women and women’s land rights. District Judge, Secretary of Lokadalat, as well as two lawyers and support staff were present. Local police also extended their support. A total of 200 group members and leaders were present there and a total of 10 cases were discussed and filed.

Three tribal groups of Gopalpur village in Bankura district: thirty individuals in these groups have received government vested land from the local land department for cultivation. Group members also planted a total of 50K plants

How many people will your project serve annually?


What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

Less than $50

Does your project seek to have an impact on public policy?


If so, how?

Lobbying state & national government to incorporate issue of ‘group patta’ within land policy

What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Does your organization have a board of directors or an advisory board?

Does your organization have any non monetary partnerships with NGOs?


Does your organization have any non monetary partnerships with businesses?

Does your organization have any non monetary partnerships with government?


Please tell us more about how partnerships could be critical to the success of your innovation.

Some examples: a) I am a judge on local government Lok Adalats (People's Courts) and use these courts for seeing justice for violence against women and land rights issues for women. (b) We also work with central government ministries such as Land and Land Reforms department to lobby for policy changes. (c) We work with Ministry of Panchayati Raj on issues dealing with land distribution for women.

We would like to learn more about how your initiative is financially supported. Please explain your business plan/revenue model

This initiative is a new concept and unique in West Bengal. SRREOSHI has approached various organizations for funding to more widely implement its programs.

SRREOSHI began operations with the full support of Action Aid India Kolkata Region in 2009; funding was later augmented by the Tata Trust. While SRREOSHI’s business plan and revenue model are currently only in preliminary stages of development, it is important to note that SRREOSHI has significant operational plans, including the construction of a seed bank and grain gola.

It is anticipated that micro-finance programs aimed at marginalized communities will serve as an additional potential source of funding in the future.

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

My initial work on the issue of violence against women at the grassroots level generated the understanding that women’s status within the family and community as a whole will not improve without access to and control over resources. Agriculture is a primary means of livelihood in the villages, and women are already working in different aspects of it. If women were given access to land and to the production from the land, they would improve their standing in the family as well as the community.

Women in poor families have long been involved in supporting their families. In the dry lands of Bankura, women have been working in the stone-crusher industry as daily wage labourers where they face rampant wage differentials and sexual abuse. If these women could be provided with land and the means to effectively cultivate it, their standing within the family and communities as a whole would be greatly enhanced; improvements in agricultural productivity would also benefit their children. This would result in a holistic improvement in the condition of women and society in general.

Tell us about the social innovator—the person—behind this idea.

Sikha Roy is the principal originator of this idea. She holds a post-graduate degree in Political Science and a Masters degree in Social Work from Vidyasagar University in West Bengal. She began her career working in an NGO in Kolkata where she was responsible for studying sustainable agricultural practices and the food security of families at the grassroots level. Her work brought her into close contact with women from local communities, and demonstrated that these issues could not be addressed without taking up the issue of women’s rights: overall societal development could not be enhanced without addressing gender differences and violence against women. This led her to work independently on the issue, extending her work in sustainable agriculture and food security for women.

Working on women’s land and property rights and fighting the systemic oppression of women at the societal level have become her primary concerns.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Email from Changemakers

If through another source, please provide the information.

Approximately 50 words left (400 characters).

Which (if any) of the following strategies apply to your organization or company (check as many as apply)

Policy advocacy to strengthen property rights or increase security of tenure, Formalizing and documenting property rights (i.e. titling, leasing or certification), Legal education and awareness, Developing/applying technology for surveying, mapping and documenting property rights, Other.

Please explain how your work furthers one or many of the above strategies (if you selected “other”, please explain your strategy)

Legal education and awareness through the Lok Adalat.
Through PRA exercise, mapping and documenting property rights