Inspirational Women: Bina Agarwal

“Gender and class structure people’s interactions with nature, and so structure the effects of environmental change on people and their responses to it.”

Who is Bina Agarwal?

Bina Agarwal is professor of development economics and environment at the Global Development Institute (University of Manchester). Previously, she was Director and Professor of Economics at the Institute of Economic Growth (Delhi University). Bina was educated at the Universities of Cambridge and Delhi, and she has held teaching and research positions at many universities, including Harvard and Princeton.

Bina has conducted research and written extensively on land rights and the political economics of gender inequality and poverty. Her best known work is A Field of One’s Own: Gender and Land Rights in South Asia (1994)—which won the AK Coomaraswamy Book Prize, the Edgar Graham Book Prize and the KH Batheja Award. Furthermore, She was president-elect of the International Society for Ecological Economics. and is on the advisory board for Academics Stand Against Poverty.

How has she made a difference?

Bina’s research on agricultural modernisation in Asia and Africa found that women have an unequal place in the rural economy because of their limited land ownership – land being the most important resource in rural communities. Further, she found that women’s ownership of property meant they were less likely to be subjected to violence from their spouse. This was seen as even more important considering the findings that female employment and education had the opposite effect. Not simple as it might seem e.g. educating women, in the route to gender equality in rural communities.

Not only did Bina’s highlight problems for women through her research, but In 2005, She spearheaded a successful campaign to amendment Hindu Inheritance law in India and make it gender equal. Now women have the same right as men to inherit land.

Why does she inspire team LITTLE BUD?

The important findings of Bina’s work fascinates Team LITTLE BUD. She has taught us about some of the many complexities of tackling gender inequality. Bina asked questions that couldn’t be answered with existing research, so carried out the research herself. We find her dedication to empowering rural women inspiring.