This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Why Talk Of ‘Equality’ When Women Are Left To Struggle For A Roof Above Their Head?

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Dr. Indu Prakash Singh

Sustainable development is not possible without inclusion of women and ensuring their right to housing. Special housing schemes for women of all income groups, loan facilities, and exemption in income tax and concession in housing tax could be some of the measures.

Photo Credit: Aris Gionis/Flickr
Photo Credit: Aris Gionis/Flickr

An amendment in the Hindu Succession Act 1956 in 2005 gave daughters equal rights in parental property. The change in law was a welcome step in India’s endeavour to empower its women and make them economically secure. But mere right in parental property is not enough. For women, education, economic independence and the right to housing is as important as having the right to parental property. Ensuring housing rights for women can be an important tool in addressing the underlying causes of inequality and over the time will also lead to a shift in the socio-cultural norms that project the image of women and girls as an economic liability.

According to 2011 Census, the increase in population is more in urban areas than in rural areas. There has been a spurt in population growth in urban areas due to migration, natural increase in population and also because of inclusion of new areas under ‘urban’ category. As a result, lack of adequate housing is the most critical among the varied problems being faced by the city dwellers and urban poor which the government’s urban development programmes have continuously failed to address.

The shortage of housing for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) and Lower Income Groups (LIG) in urban areas is expected to grow from the estimated 26.53 million dwelling units at the end of the Eleventh Plan (2007-12) period to enormous proportions due to low priority given to it. And with a housing shortage of 40 million in rural areas, the housing deficit nationally is more than 66 million. It is often the women and girl children who suffer the most if they do not have a house of their own. A house is not just a roof above their head but also a safety net, which saves them from both the outside world and male dominance in the family. Ownership of the house secures their position in the family.

Unfortunately, cases of sex determination and sex selective elimination in Delhi is amongst the highest in the country and the woman is often thrown out of the house if she does not bear a son, something she is not responsible for. In such cases, where does the woman go? Ensuring house rights to women will help arrest the menace. Lack of access to adequate housing and gaps in asset ownership and control has often led women to be seen as an economic liability and a burden for the family. The demand for housing rights for women should be viewed from gender equity and women’s empowerment perspective, with an understanding that having access and control over housing will give women greater autonomy and decision-making power, including fertility-based decisions and the strength to oppose daughter aversion.

To encourage women’s right to housing, in many states of the country there is a concession in the stamp duty if the property is registered in the name of a woman. But there are limitations too. If a man registers the house in the name of his wife, he is not liable to get income tax exemptions for the housing loan taken by him for the house. With a majority of urban dwellers taking a loan to purchase a house, this is a serious drawback. This on the other hand is encouraging black money holders to invest in property and also getting a concession in stamp duty by registering the property in the name of the wife. The situation is hence like having a woman sarpanch/ward member in a panchayat where her husband is the de facto executor of the job and the real decision-maker.

Further, huge housing deficit in urban areas has raised the question as how can housing right to women be ensured when there are not enough houses. Development needs to be at both levels: rural and urban. Adequate housing and sustainable livelihood should be prioritised into the overall development plans of the government to end homelessness. The profiteering urban development model being followed by the states needs to be stopped.

No cities can sustain until housing needs, which are an essential part of livelihood are fulfilled. Plans and schemes (loan repayment holidays, credit availability at lower rates of interest) need to be made in such a manner that the CityMakers can hold on to housing. Special provision should be made for women.

There has to be a no forced evictions policy. Government should adopt and adhere to the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacement in all cases of eviction and relocation. When a family relocates, it is mostly the woman of the house and the children who suffer the most. The state needs to provide them a place where they can safely go to sleep and fulfil their basic needs.

The government wants to have Housing for All by the year 2022. Considering the huge housing shortage, it will have to construct 8,500 houses every day. Government should develop a national social housing strategy and addressing homelessness should be made a key aspect in its housing plan. The strategy should be developed in consultation with the CityMakers and people who are inadequately housed, including women. The government should come out with special schemes for both working and non-working women.

The new government has declared that it will develop 100 new ‘smart’ cities. But there is a concern that the poor might not be able to find any space in the proposed smart cities. Moreover, land acquisition in new cities would result in largescale displacement of the poor and disempowered. This would increase migration of the displaced to the cities where they would have no home of their own. It has also been proposed that slum development would be carried out in a public private partnership (PPP) model. Residents of informal settlements need to be constantly vigilant and see that they are included in the slum resettlement schemes and thereby secure their habitat.

Sustainable development is not possible without inclusion of women and ensuring their right to housing. Special housing schemes for women of all income groups, loan facilities for them, exemption in income tax and concession in housing tax could be some of the measures that can be taken to ensure housing rights to women and consequently empowering them.

With inputs from Anil Kumar, Coordinator, National Forum for Housing Rights (NFHR)

The author is the National Convenor of NFHR

The article was originally published here on Girls Count.

You must be to comment.
  1. B

    Why talk of ‘equality’ when a man in India commits suicide every 6 minutes, courtesy of economic hardships and draconian Indian laws.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Shambhavi kumari

By Youth Ki Awaaz

By Lipi Mehta

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below