Land, assets, and livelihoods - Gendered analysis of evidence from Odisha state in India

Although asset-based approaches for studying poverty have shown that the portfolio of assets households own or can access influences livelihood strategies and a variety of development outcomes, there is little research unpacking gendered dimensions of asset ownership in diverse contexts. Using data collected from the evaluation of two government land titling interventions in the Indian state of Odisha, this paper examines key relationships linking land and livelihood strategies. The investigation is one of the first to explicitly use the Gender, Agriculture, and Assets Project framework to gain additional insights on how gender–asset dynamics relate to household livelihood strategies. Our results point to a gender-segregated wage labor market, where employment opportunities for rural women are limited; education for both men and women can enable the adoption of more food secure livelihood strategies; and a significant link exists between households that adopt more food secure livelihood strategies and the amount of land they can access, whether they own the land, and the share of land owned by the woman. These results suggest that development interventions to enable households to adopt improved livelihood strategies must consider the gendered context in which they operate, including men and women’s employment opportunities, their skills and asset holdings, and make explicit efforts to address constraints in order to facilitate improved development outcomes.