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Meri Mitti Challenge

Inviting solutions to empower & radically improve the lives of rural women
Seed grants up to 25L | Deadline: July 25
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Context

A majority of rural and tribal women contribute to India’s economy through land-based livelihoods including agriculture, forestry, fisheries and pastoralism, yet, they constitute barely 14% of the country’s landowners, and rarely have control over the land they work on. Women, when they are landowners, are more economically independent, physically safe, and their families have improved nutrition and health outcomes.

The unequal playing field of access to land for rural and tribal women is exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Evidence from previous disease outbreaks suggests that when the male head of family passes away, widows are susceptible to land-grabbing by male relatives during property division. As guardians of household food security, when food is scarce, women and girls may decrease their caloric intake in the favor of male family members.

As the pandemic progresses, there is an urgent need to empower rural and tribal women, and enhance their social protections and welfare through secure rights to land.

Objective

Our objective with Meri Mitti is to support rural organizations to develop innovative solutions and strengthen existing interventions designed to improve land access and ownership for women in rural communities.

applications to our Meri Mitti Challenge are now closed. Please drop a mail to pioneer@thenudge.org if you would like to be updated about future dates.

We invite applications that seek to improve rural and tribal women's access to:
land-based livelihoods
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land-based livelihoods

The efforts of rural and tribal women depend on their access to inputs such as land, livestock, information, credit, labour, and hired equipment. There are substantial gaps and inequalities in women's access to these means of production, and government infrastructure is often biased towards males. To address infrastructural barriers that women face in the pursuit of land-based livelihoods (agriculture, agroforestry, fisheries, pastoralism, etc.), we are looking for solutions that:
A - give women land access through titles (eg. through the Forest Rights Act, 2006), that serve as collateral and improve women’s productivity by unlocking access to credit and landholding-based government schemes such as PM-KISAN.
B - focus on women in input and information delivery systems for land-based livelihoods by hiring more women agents or re-orienting male agents.
C - recognize women as farmers in order for them to access the kisan credit cards that entitle them to certain amounts of credit each season as per the quantity and quality of land
D - promote collective action by women’s groups in accessing inputs (eg. contiguous land to cultivate) and reaching markets
Apply
legal aid
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legal aid

While several legislations since the 2000s have been formulated to equalize land rights and property rights in India, the reality is that (a) since topics such as inheritance fall under personal laws, there are still discrepancies between Hindu Succession laws, Personal Sharia laws; there is no uniformity nation-wide as there are different amendments in succession laws and tenurial laws in different states, and so on (b) the penetration of legal changes in rural communities is complicated by power structures and lack of legal literacy and education.

To address the legal barriers to women’s rights to property in India, we are looking for solutions that, keeping women’s safety and privacy in mind, help to:
A - simplify and disseminate legal information related to women’s land and property rights, especially through tech-led channels. For example, through community radio, IVRS and SMS
B - pursue claims and provide legal aid by helping rural women navigate processes set in complex land legislations and orders
C - innovate on or improve dispute resolution mechanisms that may already exist for women
Apply
institutional support
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institutional support

Rural and tribal communities depend on local-to-district level officials to receive information on policies, land laws, welfare schemes, and land reforms. Initiatives to improve local governance, targeting of welfare schemes, and record-keeping for land are already underway. For instance: digitized land records in India have been initiated under the Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improved Technology in Village Areas (SVAMITVA) scheme and a GIS land bank system is running its pilot in 6 states. To accelerate such schemes, and ensure the inclusion of women in rural and tribal areas, we are looking for solutions that:
A - promote improved land record and data collection and management and specifically record women’s shares of land and property
B - develop accountable and transparent institutions; reduce corruption
C - promote land titles for women; disassociate women’s land claims from their households and families
D - build the capacity of the local government to design operations and behavioral nudges that gender-mainstream the implementation of land laws at a grassroots level. For example, conducting meetings at locations that are easily accessible to women; including woman’s name on land title documents
Apply
social equity
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social equity

Even if laws and institutions are gender-equal, women’s claims will not be recognized unless social attitudes and norms change. For example, parents may still leave their lands to their male heirs; sisters may intentionally forgo their family property in favor of their brothers. Additionally, conservative perceptions of a woman’s ‘correct’ role or reduced ability are obstacles that constrain them from public mobility or interactions that help them reach their full potential.

To address the social barriers to women’s land rights, we are looking for solutions that:
A - provide education to girls, women, communities, and other partners about gender parity and secure rights to land and property
B - provide innovative services that help women access and utilize their land rights. For example, closing the gender digital divide to enable girls and women to use online land platforms and access information
C - use popular media to project gender-progressive roles that help transform social attitudes
Apply

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Timeline

submission

Engagement

Phase 1

July 1 to July 25
Abstract
through the Apply Now form
Knowledge Series (online sessions) Register here

Phase 2

July 30 to August 16
Detailed new
initiative/start-up plan
Connect with leading
collective of experts

Phase 3

August 4th week
Final Presentation
to Jury
Final winners are invited to our launchpad & given access to downstream partners

Phase 1

July 1 - July 25
Abstract
through the Apply Now form
Knowledge & Dialogue Series
(online sessions)

Phase 2

July 30 - Aug 8
Detailed new
initiative/start-up plan
Connect with leading
collective of experts

Phase 3

August Third Week
Final Presentation
to Jury
Final winners are invited to our launchpad & given access to downstream partners
Phase 1 evaluations will happen on a rolling basis, so please don't wait until the deadline to submit your solution.

the most promising solutions selected as part of the Meri Mitti Challenge will

be inducted to The/Nudge's Launchpad Program (9 months of Launchpad)

receive funding up to Rs. 25 Lakhs (amount is dependant on the stage of the pilot / new initiative & completion of milestones)

receive dedicated mentoring and strategic advice from a Collective of experts and The/Nudge Partners (incl. support for re-design of programs)

join a community of exceptional leaders and get access to an ecosystem of support

Submit a solution

who is eligible to apply?

you can apply if you are one of the following:

1. organisations working to empower women socially and economically and seeking to start a new initiative to improve access and ownership to land for rural and tribal women.

2. organisations already working on women's land & housing and are looking to make substantial changes in their solution/model. For example, tech integration plan, re-design or revamp of their programs, and the likes.

legal requirements: organisations must be registered in India as a section 8 company, a trust or a society and should have obtained certificate under India's Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

(In case you have questions regarding eligibility or FCRA, please write to us at pioneer@thenudge.org)

how are the winners selected?

winners are selected on the basis of:
(a) problem understanding.
(b) solution clarity.
(c) demonstrated problem solving ability.
(d) potential for impact (innovation, scale) on rural women
(e) commitment to work on the solution full-time.

how can one apply?

click on Apply Now to submit your solution if the abstract-solution is ready and fill the questions in the form.

(If you’re still working on the solution and want to receive email notifications to the knowledge & dialogue series, panel discussions etc., click on the
register interest and we will notify you. you can submit your solution by the deadline)

when and how will the seed grants be disbursed to winners?

the grants will be provided to organisations in agreed tranches over a period of time. the amount of each tranche and disbursement schedules will depend on the needs and stage of the organisation and will be linked to completion of agreed milestones.

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