Recommendations from IGSSS Delhi women housing and land study



March 1, 2008

Summary of
Recommendations from the IGSSS report “Towards gender just housing and land
policy in
Delhi” by Sujata Madhok and Shivani Bhardwaj[1]

Women resource allocation should be a government obligation within a public policy paradigm instead of it being a issue of family and private family domain.

1. Learning from the process for law reform

The Indian Constitution gives women equal rights with men and this includes equal rights to ownership and inheritance of property including land. Delhi government should evolve incentive-based programs to encourage landed families to legally give land and property to women of their households:

Enforce compulsory registration of marriages to make an automatic recording of the wife’s name as co-owner along with husband in record of rights.

Increase budget and powers of existing women’s agencies to address women’s land and property issues.

Make available legal aid and counseling to women at the local level free of cost and set up fast track courts /alternate dispute resolution with specific jurisdiction of handling women’s cases pertaining to civic amenities, land and

Registration fee should be waived if property is registered in the name of woman.

Enable women to enforce partition under personal laws to take control of her share.

2. Learning from organizations working with the poor.

Document the strategies and ways different organizations of women and the working poor in the city have articulated the housing and income generation issues of specific sections of the population to develop policy recommendations and advocacy agenda.

Unless urban planning itself is made participatory, the goal of ensuring that Delhi grows and develops into a gender sensitive, equitable and sustainable
capital city will remain out of reach. Women groups and those working with the
working class need to be directly involved in the urban planning process.

3. Learning from the urban planners

A gender-sensitive approach to urban governance has two principal objectives; firstly, to increase women’s participation in human settlements development and, secondly, to foster gender-awareness and competence among both women and men in the political arena and planning practice.

Recognizing that the property rights of women and men in Delhi are shaped by discourse at the level of household, an attempt is being made to affect planning, investment and management decisions made at the neighborhood or city level to develop an alternative paradigm where the state will be held responsible for fostering equality in ownership of land and housing for women.

Document housing needs of unorganised sector women workers, immigrant women, sex workers, destitute women and women in particular situations of vulnerability ( widows, single, positive, dalit, tribal, muslim women)

The government should appoint an authority for allotting land for women’s group housing societies and associations and to promote land banks for women’s collective activity.

Promote women’s security and ownership of public space through urban planning.

Enhance legal forms of tenure security such as affordable private and public housing, joint property, and cooperative housing, waiving or minimising taxes for collective or ownership.

Every sub zone of MCD and NDMC through the gender resource centre needs to have a budget to assist women to apply for women owned housing and commercial space, through an information and facilitation system that is open to an evaluation and critique from women’s associations and groups.

In the event of any acquisitions, displacements, evictions, the government should be under the obligation to take the consent of the women.

Ensure 50% participation of women at public information meetings at the municipal level.

Urban planning must ensure the access to essential services such as immediate medical aid for the women and children within their area of residence or work.

Provision for crèches near home and work areas.

Widen the scope of municipal services to adapt them to women’s needs (for example, by providing work sheds and home based livelihoods).

Acknowledging that workforce from rural areas will be pushed and pulled to urban areas, set up centres for safe migration, temporary shelter, training and placement.

4. Learning from groups who work on gender and violence:

Create inventories of unprotected areas and potentially dangerous neighborhoods for submission to their respective administrations.

Include gender and generation violence (actual or potential) as a priority cause for granting official protected housing or its equivalent

Ensure that supportive groups for women subjected to violence have the necessary training and information on women’s housing.

Enforce women’s legal right to safe shared housing within the home, as per the Domestic Violence Act.

Formulate guidelines on designing safe housing and safe neigborhoods and integrate these in plans for urban and rural development.

5. Learning from groups working on housing and built environment

Inclusion of women in the democratic management of housing and land:

Technically and financially support women’s participation in the design, implementation and management of land and housing to ensure that their rights and specific needs are met.

Promote the recognition of women’s right to adequate housing understood as a space which is protected, private, and secure, with a sense of belonging and connection to their ancestry, where they may realize their other rights and develop various reproductive and productive activities.

Demand that spaces devoted to housing facilities reserve a specific percentage for women.

Develop indicators on women’s housing conditions, including security of tenure and access to infrastructure and basic services (water, sanitation, electricity, etc.)

Way Forward

1. Have base line data to increase housing and land in women’s names

The 2011 Census as well as NSSO (MOSPI) may be requested to generate data on men and women’s ownership and access to credit for land and housing.

2. Specify which women need to be supported why and how

Data collation on women’s property base may provide information on how many women own land, property and productive assets. Methods need to be devised for collection of  such data from  different government departments and households

Women from the lowest income groups, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, minorities, single women (including widowed, unmarried, divorced and deserted women), women with disability etc should be prioritized in allotment of both individual and collective land and property leases. This policy should
subsequently be endorsed by the government and implemented.

3. The legal policy and program framework

It is established that the stock of land and housing for the lower middle class and the poor in Delhi is inadequate. The new Master Plan[2] needs to address this issue in all seriousness. A major thrust is required for low income housing as well as slum upgradation, with low interest loans to the poor. The middle class is already benefiting from low interest housing loans and similar facilities need to be extended to the poor, with appropriate modifications. It is also important that plots and homes be allotted in women’s names as it is they who hold households together. The following suggestion will be useful:

  • A land and housing allotment policy for women (marginalised and mainstream both), as individuals as well as collective groups and institutions, needs to be drafted through a participatory process involving all stakeholders.
  • Women’s resource zones that reserve residential and commercial land for ownership by women’s collectives.
  • Married women’s rights to matrimonial property need to be legislated. Women’s ownership of property should also be promoted through more measures to give rebates in taxes and stamp duties to women-owned properties.
  • Credit policies for land and housing should be made women friendly with lower interest rates and some more market oriented benefits.

4. Providing women a role in the governance of Delhi

Multiple authorities create confusion in decision making of land use, land management and maintenance of records. A single administrative authority should govern these subjects within the GNCTD. Women led institutions should be strengthened through training and financing efforts to promote the collective rights of women over land and productive assets.

Gender integrated budgets and development plans should be made at the local governance level.

Land use plans, regional plans, master plans should be made by or in consultation
with the local governance council. Land use plans, regional plans, master plans
should be made public at the concept stage itself.

Government should make provision for availability of technical inputs to women
entrepreneurs through local governance council.

Compulsory registration of marriages and maintenance of marriage records at local governance level.

Compulsory recording and tracking of migration at ward level with active assistance from women’s collectives and other organisations.

5. Involving women in preserving the city

The urban renewal process has always led to devastation of the city’s aesthetics. Introduction of any new project has to be done with sensitivity to maintaining the historicity and integrity of the city. Many historical spaces are common spaces, such as the water reservoirs, parks, monuments, etc. Their destruction also leads to the destruction of the green cover of the city. Women’s involvement in neighbourhoods makes them natural guardians of such spaces.

Participation of women in any planning with respect to historical monuments and heritage sites.

Inviting women’s collectives to maintain and use historical spaces for tourism and generating income through it.

Preservation of traditional water bodies would not only improve the environment but also stop the depletion of the ground water of the city.

Women’s collective should be trained in natural resource management and in turn be enabled to conduct training to other city dwellers.

request for the full report from or

Adapted from HIC
and CWLR recommendations to the World Urban Forum IV to reflect needs for a city like
Delhi. Source : Report on women caucus by D leena and Shivani Bhardwaj November
10 , 2008

A Situational Analysis of Women
and Girls in the
National Capital Territory of Delhi, by Sujata Madhok for National
Commission for Women.