(a)   Land reforms

Decentralization of governance and land reforms have been two distinctive features of government policy in West Bengal. We began this section by drawing attention to the first , as reflected in women's participation in local self-government through their expanding role in PRIs. Table P4 shows that land reform measures implemented by the state have brought distinct benefits to at least a section of women belonging to the agrarian sector,. They now hold  formal landholding rights in all the districts of the state - a basic ingredient of empowerment in rural India. As of 2003, women's names featured in about 16 per cent of total  pattas ,  either on individual basis or jointly with male relatives.

Table P 5 : Distribution of joint and single pattas to women in West Bengal districts

2003

District

Joint Patta

% of total

Single woman

% of total

Darjeeling

1360

2.8

3037

6.1

Jalpaiguri

6087

7.1

4851

5.7

Koch Behar

8764

6.6

2264

1.7

U. Dinajpur

14316

10.5

1105

0.8

D.Dinajpur

3453

3.9

1148

1.3

Malda

8499

6.8

NA

NA

Murshidabad

10185

8.0

7075

5.5

Birbhum

6941

6.0

4005

3.4

Bardhaman

14565

8.1

5968

3.3

Nadia

2356

3.4

5234

7.5

24 Parganas N

3797

5.0

5960

7.8

Hooghly

9448

17.0

3819

6.9

Bankura

26855

19.2

6619

4.7

Purulia

4006

4.5

3514

4.0

Medinipur

63800

16.1

30210

7.6

Howrah

3669

14.4

NA

NA

24 Parganas S

1778

2.2

39548

48.9

 

Total W. Bengal

209855

9.7

128593

5.9

Source : WBHDR, Table 2.3, p.36.

Obviously, this long over-due recognition of women's rights in land has to be further strengthened and women across the districts of West Bengal need to be made fully aware of this vital entitlement.

(b)  Women-oriented schemes  administered by GOWB's Department of Women and Child Development and Social Welfare (WCD) have been discussed earlier

 

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