Story of Sabitri Hikaka
Sabitri Hikaka is a single woman of Boriguda village in Rayagada district of Odisha. She lost her parents in her childhood. This incident brought all the responsibility of three siblings on to her shoulder. She toiled hard to meet her ends and remained unmarried to support her family. Sabitri’s uncles refused to share the ancestral property with Sabitri just because she was a woman.
In one of the SHG meetings during the summer of 2018, a PRADAN staff explained SHG members about the FRA (Forest Rights Act) 2006. No one was ready to believe that they can claim title over the forest land which is in use. After more discussion and deliberation, all of them agreed to follow the procedures laid out in the FRA.
PRADAN organized awareness training around FRA in Boriguda village. After the awareness training villagers formed a forest rights committee (FRC) in the village and Sabitri was selected as the president of FRC. A total of 74 HHs in the village claimed for title under IFR (Individual Forest Rights) out of which 21 claimants were single women. Pradan has engaged in the village women and men around gender equality which helped the palli sabha to accept the claim of single women. In addition to IFR, they also applied for forest rights under CFR. Women collectives and Pallisabha regularly followed the process to get recognition of rights and approached relevant officials and minister.
On 07.02.2021, Minister of tribal affairs visited Boriguda village and distributed the land titles of 105 acres to 74 households. Sabitri received the land title for the two acres area. After receiving the titles under IFR, the villagers received the title for 208.5 acres under CFR (community forest rights) on 15thAugust 2021.After receiving the land title of 2.15 acres of land; Sabitri is growing vegetables and paddy in the land. She is a member of a village producer group and linked with block level women farmers’ organizations and she receives input support and marketing of the produce. Sabari understands that women are equal parcener in land and subsequent right over her land is not less than a miracle in her life and this has helped her to move out of sufferings of singleness and insecurity to a life of dignity and security. Now Sabitri is an inspiration for other vulnerable women in the locality and she is an example that right over land is key for transformation in life.4
Originally published on the Our Land Our Story page.