Essay on Women and Commons in India: The need to rethink the relationship between sustainability, land and women’s economic empowerment

This essay was submitted as a part of LQF’s National Environmental Law & Policy Essay Writing Competition, 2021, information for which can be found here.


Today, it is widely acknowledged that the Commons, in the form of pastureland, forests, dryland and so on, are immensely rich in resources. They prove to be the sole income of several communities including pastoralists, who are at the forefront of deploying traditional sustainable practices dating back to several centuries to delay and mitigate climate change. However, in this entire narrative, the role of women and their unique position with regard to community management of common land and livestock is often overlooked. 

In the process of furthering the sustainability agenda, then, it is impossible to ignore the economic value of common land and the interlinkages it has with women’s financial autonomy. This essay, while tracing the historical significance of Commons and pointing towards the need to develop a national policy for them, takes into account how the Commons present a unique opportunity to rethink the relationship between women’s empowerment and tenurial rights, while taking forward the agenda of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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