“My question to women is that since you do all the work on the land, should it not be in your name?”
In a fair world, the answer to this question would simply be a ‘Yes’. Unfortunately, the world is not fair and no one knows that better than Chandra Arya. The youngest of three daughters, Chandra lost her parents when she was just ten years old. Her father’s elder brother raised her.
At the age of 22, she was married to Jagdish, a daily wage labourer. A few years into the marriage, to support her husband Chandra got a job as an Accredited Social Heath Activist (ASHA). Time went by and her family grew. The couple’s earnings could not cater to the needs of a family of five. This is when she decided to ask for her share in her father’s land.
She was told by her uncle’s sons that the money spent in raising her was equivalent to the value of the land. An answer she was not prepared for, as Chandra had always assumed that the land belonged to her and her sisters.
Thus began her unconventional struggle in a society that sees only a son as the true heir of the land. Chandra was not only challenging a social norm by asking to be recognized as her father’s heir but also fighting to secure the future of her children just as any man would.
She faced numerous threats along the way but her husband’s support kept her strong. The real push came when Chandra became a part of Saajha Manch network in Uttarakhand. Here she attended many awareness programmes which led her to examine land records at the tehsil office. She discovered that her cousins had fraudulently declared themselves as heir.
Chandra was determined to get her land back but she did not want to take legal recourse against her family. With her new found knowledge she discovered she could convince her cousins to come to a compromise. She got possession over one third of her father’s land.
So what has Chandra done with her half acre of land? She has planted vegetables that not only supplements the family’s food basket but yields a handsome income.
A farmer and campaigner of women’s property rights, Chandra is asking women to demand their rightful share. Sadly, she has had little success with them but the story at home is different.
Chandra says, “I am so happy when my sons tell me that their sister should get an equal share in everything we have”.