Project Name: Empowering Women and Communities through Property Rights
West Bengal has digitized most land records and developed an on-line platform for citizens to access records and transfer rights from sale or inheritance. Unfortunately, many of the digitized records are inaccurate. Women are particularly affected, as their names are rarely listed as co-owners or heirs on older records, which means many are not able to legally claim land and leverage it to improve their economic and social conditions. Landesa is an international non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of the world’s poorest women and men by securing land and property rights and improving the institutional environment in countries around the world. They have identified an alternative path to securing property rights in West Bengal – building the capacity of rural women who are members of self-help groups providing information and property records updating services, for which they will charge a small service fee. At the same time, community members will gain access to the information they need quickly and at a lower cost by working with a member of their community.
This project will help to secure the land and property rights of up to 300,000 men and women living in the Indian State of West Bengal by scaling a new, entrepreneurial approach to strengthening land records. A strong and secure system of private property rights is widely recognized as part of the essential foundation of a free and prosperous society. It enables autonomous decision making, allowing individuals and families the freedom to choose how to use the resources they control to improve their lives and, in the process, enabling more and different kinds of entrepreneurship. Importantly, providing more secure rights to property devolves power and enables women and men to have a room, a home, a field, a factory of their own; a place largely free from the interference of those in authority, as is essential to protecting and preserving privacy and freedom (as Hayek says in The Road to Serfdom).