Bhawanipatna, Jan 26:
A Women Support Centre aimed at supporting single women such as widows, divorcees, abandoned, differently-able and unmarried adult women to benefit from state’s land and social security entitlement schemes was launched by Kalahandi collector Bijaya Ketan Upadhyaya here on the eve of Republic Day on Saturday.
The programme will be implemented across the district with support from Landesa, a global non-governmental organization (NGO) working for land rights of the poorest people.
Speaking on the occasion, Upadhyaya said the Centre programme has the potential of bringing a slow social revolution.”
“Social evil starts because of non-realization of land rights by women. As land is a foundational source of living, ensuring land rights to women can improve their income, family’s nutrition and help them access education for children and social security entitlements,” Upadhyaya said. “Our system is dominated by patriarchy and we forget to ensure the benefits to women as mandated by law,” he said.
Since this is an innovative initiative that tries to identify single vulnerable women, the focus should be to ensure that all poor single women benefit from the programme. The tehsildars should be open and proactive in facilitating land allocation and not get bogged down by procedures. There should be regular monitoring and review at all levels to ensure optimal benefits to the single women; otherwise the very purpose of this programme will be lost,” the Collector said.
“The centres will function as exclusive cells from each tehsil office of the district to identify and facilitate land allocation to single women and woman-headed families under different state laws and schemes. All the tehsildars have been advised to position women nodal officers, essentially of the rank of RI or ARI, at each of the centres to facilitate its day-to-day functioning,” he added.
The programme will train revenue officials on the provisions in securing women’s land rights through a series of workshops and training programmes. Anganwadi workers will be trained to identify single women and women-headed households in the rural areas through a unique enumeration system. This ensures that all single women such as widows, separated, differently-able and unmarried women living with parents or relatives are identified. These women have been at a huge disadvantage as they do not get counted through usual process that counts only ‘households’ to benefit from the state’s welfare programmes including land.
While the primary focus is securing women’s land rights, the centres will also identify women who are eligible for other entitlements like housing schemes, pension schemes, identity papers and food security schemes from the Block Development Offices.
After Ganjam, Mayurbhanj and Koraput, Kalahandi is the fourth district to launch Women Support Centre programme, which will benefit thousands of single women who have remained invisible and unreached.