There are an estimated 500,000 single, rural, landless women in the state of Odisha alone. Many live with their children in abject poverty – sometimes living in cowsheds and relying on handouts to survive.
Until recently, these women were literally not counted by government officials. Government officials assumed that the women would be taken care of by their male relatives, as custom dictated. But Landesa’s research showed that this was not the case. What’s more, the women were legally entitled to government services but unaware of their rights.
Landesa provided data to our government partners, showing the widespread problem of women’s poverty and women’s inability to access government services – especially programs to provide land – and worked with government officials to devise a solution.
With Landesa’s partnership, the state government of Odisha just launched a historic survey to identify every landless family in their state – even women headed households. The government has launched an ambitious program, with Landesa’s assistance, to ensure that these women receive secure rights to a small plot of land – just like men.
Studies show that if women are provided with secure rights to land, they can better provide for their children.
This partnership started with progressive officials and a visionary district administrator in Ganjam district who committed to working alongside Landesa to establish a responsible institutional delivery system for women, many of whom are illiterate.
The first Women’s Support Center, then called Women’s Facilitation Center, was established in 2011.
Now, Women Support Centers are operating in Ganjam, Mayurbhanj, Koraput, Kalahandi and Gajapati. They rely on village health and nutrition workers, Anganwadi workers, to identify needy women and help them apply for government services.
Already more than 7,000 women have benefited.
- The state government of Odisha has established 76 Women’s Support Centers with Landesa’s assistance. The Centers, the first of their kind in India, aim to ensure that widows, abandoned women, and other single women can access government services including opportunities to gain ownership of a small plot of land.