International Women’s Day: Different Functions in Bihar in the past days
In Nawatpur, 350 women from 51 villages assembled for International Women’s Day on March 12th. The discussion centered on acquiring homestead and agricultural land. Most of the women had not yet received any legal documents in spite of many years of advocacy. Some had been given parchar but had not been included on the land register, and others had possession of land but no title deed. There were also homeless and landless people in the group. It was estimated that about 15 percent of the women were homeless and landless.
Among the speakers, Jitnebhen explained how she had received the household plot of three decimals in her name and now was hoping to get extra land for her kitchen garden. Jitnebehan is known to be a powerful local leader, and has the ability to demand her land rights from the local administration. Shakuntala also demonstrated extraordinary leadership as well. She had received a land certificate from the government but was not able to take possession of the land. Apart from them, there were a few others who had received land in the husband’s name. Titlebhen’s family for example had received three cents of land in the name of the husband and because he had two wives co-habiting in the same compound, he was not interested to put it in the name of the first wife. It was clear that the majority were still without clear land title.
On the same day, another meeting for International Women’s Day was held in Kurtha, Arwal District. There was about 300 women who assembled to discuss women and land rights, problems of women farmers, and various schemes that can be accessed from government. The Block Development Officer, Circle Officer and Agricultural Officer participated in the discussions.
In Fathepur block in Gaya District, more than sixteen hundred women assembled on March 13th to celebrate International Women’s Day. This was completely organized by local women activists. There were also members of the government present in the meeting,local block officers, community education officers and 15 local panchayat members. This is an area in which Ekta Parishad Bihar and PGVS are working on water and sanitation program as well as providing Adivasis people with forest land rights. Following the celebration, 350 applications were deposited with the District Magistrate.
On the same day, meetings were also held by women in Ramgarhwa in East Champaran and in Bagha in West Champaran. In the Ramgarhwa meeting, 350 women came and talked about land problems and agricultural issues. In Bagha 300 women participated. Champaran is well known as the area in which Gandhi worked in 1917 on settling land disputes.
On March 14th Sahar in Bhojpur and Kurhni in Muzaffapur both held international women’s meetings. The Bhojpur meeting saw 325 women and 40 men in attendance. The Kurhni meeting included 250 people with 30 menfolk. As in the other meetings, the discussions circled on the issues of land rights and farmer’s rights.