THE GENESIS OF WGWLO
The seeds of WGWLO were sown at a state-level workshop organised by the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (India) IN 2002. This NGO, working in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh for enhancing people’s livelihoods, recognised the importance of women’s land rights. Hence, Dr. Bina Agarwal, Professor of Economics from the Institute of Economic Growth, New Delhi, and author of the path-breaking book A Field of One’s Own was invited to conduct a workshop on ‘Land Ownership as a Livelihood Issue for Women’ in July 2002.
The workshop examined the different perspectives (livelihood enhancement, welfare improvement and women’s empowerment) of why it was critical for women to own land. The workshop also analysed successful examples wherein women had taken land on lease for collective farming, which had resulted in enhancing food security and social status of poor women of marginalised communities.
The workshop brought to light the fact that although this is an important issue, most NGOs in Gujarat had not focused on it. While working with a gender perspective in rural Gujarat had been a priority for quite some time, almost none had specifically targeted this issue. In fact, some of the staff were not aware of the importance of this issue.
To address this issue, the Working Group for Women and Land Ownership (WGWLO) was formed with 13 NGOs coming together to work decisively on this issue. Since then, The number has grown to 35 NGO’s, CBO’s and development Professionals.