Bilhana* is the first woman in her village to share equal ownership of her property with her husband.
The work of women in the Nepalese village of Kapilvastu is essential in the production of rice, wheat, sugar and oil, yet they are rarely recognised. Citizenship and the right to own property in this region is typically restricted to men. This affects women’s sense of value and can have an increased impact on domestic violence in this community.
‘Women in my community work hard on farms and give 100 per cent,’ Bilhana said. ‘They spend most of their days in the field. Until now, no woman in my village has had legal ownership over the land she works. It disheartened me.’
Baptist World Aid Australia’s local Christian Partner, with the support of ANCP, works with couples to help change happen at a community level. Through the program, couples participate in workshops and action-reflection processes to ensure that both understand what it means to be joint owners of property.
Often, there are fears or concerns about what this may mean. Bilhana’s husband Gurratan, lives with a disability. If Bilhana’s new empowerment were to threaten their marriage, he would be left vulnerable. With support from our local Christian Partner, though, Gurratan moved beyond his fear and welcomed change.
‘I am happy to share the authority with my wife. I will share the knowledge I have gained,’ he said ‘I think sharing the land ownership is just like sharing the good news. As a religious leader and a local, I will work as an example to break the gender stereotypes.’
Bilhana wished all women in her community had joint land ownership, a benefit that helps decrease domestic and gender-based violence.
*Names have been changed for privacy purposes.