This gift in action
In Sindh provice Pakistan, it is estimated that only 40 per cent of people from the poor farming communities actually own any land – and very few of them are women.
A government attempt to rectify the situation, however, has only met with limited success. Mother of six, Aasi Mallah, was physically attacked by people in her village who disputed her claim to land despite having been awarded a four acre plot by the provincial authorities.
But she is determined to pursue her land battle through the courts.
Oxfam has been helping her and other women by providing legal support and spreading awareness among the poorest communities about their right to claim for land under the re-distribution scheme.
And thanks to lobbying by Oxfam and other groups, many of the flaws in the government's original land programme have been ironed out. And the local authorities have pledged to continue with the scheme, rolling it out to more areas across the province.
"Property rights for women in Pakistan is a rarity – and sometimes an impossibility", said Saima Hassan, Land for Women Programme officer for a local Oxfam partner. "The distribution of government land to landless peasant women in Sindh is a historic initiative. And we're trying to make sure that all the women eligible for land under the scheme receive it; and can change their status from peasant to landowner."