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Politics, property and participation – changing women’s lives in India


In several districts of the state of Himachal Pradesh in Northern India, women have been prevented from inheriting property under ancient patriarchal law for many years.

One woman has been leading a tireless campaign, started over ten years ago, to empower local women in the area, and to remove the prohibition on their inheritance of property.

Meet Rattan Manjari, who is standing in the local elections on December 28th in the Kinnaur district, and who is hoping to change the lives of hundreds of women by battling against ancient tribal patriarchal laws.

Manjari knows the benefits of land ownership for women firsthand.

“My mother made her will putting her entire agricultural land in my name despite my brothers. This was somehow an exception in my community. But if this is possible in my case, it can be possible for the rest of the tribal women too.”

Manjari also runs a women’s group in the area. She recognises that the challenges facing women run deep.

“Polyandry is another problem in the area…Still a lot needs to be done.”

Polyandry refers to the tradition where brothers share a wife.

One of the main ways that Manjari hopes to ensure increased women’s rights is through increasing the representation of women in politics. She played a key part in the recent election of an all-woman ‘panchayat’ or village council in the area, and 50% representation of women in all village, or panchayati raj institutions.

Read more at the Sify website.

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