Advocacy Campaign to Enhance Women's Asset Ownership
During the national-level consultation held in 2014, there was a consensus among the civil society groups that the coalition's work on patriarchy and son preference needs to strategically focus on issues related to women's safety and security, dowry, marriage, and asset ownership and property rights. One of the tracks on which the coalition agreed to work on was "asset ownership". It was subsequently included as one of the keys to enhance the value of girls and address deep-rooted patriarchy.
In the last three years, Girls Count has been exploring and understanding asset ownership and its linkages with other structural issues. The first consultation was organized in January 2014 with the National Forum for Housing Rights, followed by commissioning of a study on access to housing for women in 2015 and then a consultation organized on land and housing rights with Landesa in 2016. The coalition also produced leaflets on housing for women which were taken to the Members of Parliament. All these initiatives informed our understanding of the issue.
Though there are many organizations working closely on a specific issue-based campaign, we feel it is essential to create an environment in which different stakeholders focus on the issue and ensure that this process moves forward. This particular campaign which includes social media and mainstream media components is also about creating that environment.
As we understand, women's asset ownership and control is essential in ensuring their economic and social well-being. It empowers them by giving greater autonomy and decision-making power, leading to a better social and economic stature, which has a direct link with gender equality. On the other hand, its absence often leads women and girls to be seen as economic liabilities and has been proven to be a major factor behind women staying in violent situations.
With this, we also feel that any intervention around asset ownership should also underline and challenge patriarchal norms associated with it, as it would not be possible for women to enjoy full autonomy just by becoming the owner of the assets. Secondly, the intervention should also look at breaking the perception of people that sees girls as liabilities.
So, a holistic approach to asset ownership can address the need for equal share in assets, associated patriarchal norms, and break the liability perception of people at the same time. A sustained effort in this direction can make the 'shift' possible-from girls being seen as liabilities to owner of assets which they are entitled to.
Studies done in the past suggest that access and control over assets can contribute substantially in breaking down many social norms used against women and girls. Their ownership and control plays a critical role in reducing discrimination and violence against women and girls.
Given this background, HerShare campaign aims to accelerate public response for asset ownership and skilling for women and girls, by raising a discourse among common people around gender norms associated with women's asset ownership and skilling. The campaign will also highlight the challenges in the ability of women to earn, own and inherit and control assets.
How do we see asset ownership?
By asset ownership, Girls Count means the ability of women and girls to not only inherit asset (land and house) but also ensure an investment in their ability to earn, create and build their own asset and ultimately control those resources which can make them self-reliant and independent.
- Help adapt an open, consistent and transparent process.
- Provide opportunities for local engagement in both rural and urban settings.
- Converge with, support and contribute to existing initiatives around women's property rights, livelihood and skilling.
- Decentralized process: Coalition members to connect their existing work with this campaign.
The campaign will evolve in a phased manner. The initial nine months would be used to build discourse, bring visibility and create awareness. This will inform and educate us on how to take the campaign forward in phase-2 and if there would be any need to reformulate it, change its course or objective.
Goal: Strengthen people's voice and response to asset ownership of women and girls.
- Reach out to diverse groups and individuals on the street; raise the level, volume and depth of discourse around women and girls' ability to earn, own, inherit and control assets, and reduce the stigma associated with it.
- Create a buzz around it and encourage men and boys to support women's equal share in inheritance, non-conventional roles and occupations for them.
- Draw greater political and media attention by publicizing local actions/incidents where property has been shared, investments have been made in higher education, skilling or improved credit availability in enhancing their ability to earn and own.
- Start a discourse around discriminatory laws, policies and practices related to women's asset ownership, be it land or housing.
- Networking with Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) to ensure that the issue of asset ownership and financial independence of girls becomes an integral part of all Beti Bachao Beti Padho (BBBP) programmes at local, regional and national level.
- Diverse groups and individuals - men and women
- Youth, both boys and girls
- Elected representatives and decision-makers
- Networking and liasoning with NGOs and individuals for knowledge sharing.
- Working with mainstream media for wider issue-based advocacy.
- Interactions with youth in colleges and universities-both in urban and rural areas.
- Public advocacy through social media platforms.
- One-to-one dialogue with government officials/decision-makers.
- Preparation of IEC materials followed by on-ground and online dissemination.
- There is a strong linkage between women's asset-less position and violence and discrimination against them. In order to address this problem, one and all, be it common man, civil society groups, government or media should strive towards ensuring women's equal share in property.
- We have found that women largely do not own property in their own names. Even if property is registered in their name, it is largely done to save stamp duty and they do not have any control over it. Hence, the process of joint ownership of land and housing should be strengthened. Further, registration fee should be waived off if name of wife or daughter is added in the property.
- Assets are largely owned and controlled by men, which make women vulnerable and powerless. It is also connected with women's individuality, autonomy and their empowerment. Men and boys need to come forward and support women's asset ownership in the different roles they play in their lives. Their support can mean multiple actions; inheritance-father/brother to daughter/sister; joint home ownership-husband and wife or only wife; bank accounts in women's names; investing in education/skilling of daughters, etc.
- Implementation of Dowry Prohibition Act should be strengthened. Practice of 'dowry' should be stopped in the first place and by no means women's share in parental property be replaced with 'gifts' at the time of marriage.
- Married daughters should be given equal share in their parental property; they are at present denied their share despite the laws which are in place.
- There is a need to invest in the girls' ability to earn and own physical and financial assets. Access to livelihood-based skills training for their employability or entrepreneurship should be ensured.
- Bank loan and credit should be made available to women and girls to buy house, piece of land and also for their higher education. This will gradually help them build their own assets and become self-reliant.
- Increased public discourse and awareness around the issue.
- Increased stories in mainstream media around asset ownership
- Readiness among youth to support women's asset ownership and skilling
- Rumbling among policy-makers and politicians leading to opening of a dialogue around asset ownership, skills training and employability for women and girls during implementation of government programme such as BBBP.
(With technical and financial assistance from UNFPA India)