Identity-Based Exclusion: Tribal Women’s Forest Tenure Rights in Semi-Arid Rajasthan

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"Current trend of forest tenure reform promotes identity-based categories such as indigenous people with an assumption to provide better tenure rights access for marginalized groups. India’s historic Forest Rights Act of 2006 recognizes traditional rights of the scheduled tribe and other forest-dependents dwelling in and around forestlands. This paper examines the politics of forestland access for Bhil tribal women in semi-arid tribal district of Banswara, Rajasthan, India. Data was collected using in-depth interviews with 54 key informants, and two focussed group discussions. Rights-based access approach was used to analyze outcomes of forest tenure reform on tribal women’s access to individual forestland, and inclusion and/or exclusion in discretionary decision-making of forestland management. Evidence-based arguments indicate that identity-based tenure reform act as a mere tokenism and hinders tribal women’s political empowerment and access to forest-based livelihood options."
decentralization, indigenous institutions, women, forestry