Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s interim Budget proposal to build two crore more houses in rural India in the next five years, under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin), will help address the gender disparity in house ownership in India, where men own more houses than women across age-groups, location, and income brackets.

Under PMAY-G, women individually or jointly own over 70 per cent of the allocated houses, providing a much-needed social security for rural women.

PMAY-G data shows that 46 per cent of the allotments is in the joint name of husband and wife. “The joint ownership inspires the confidence that no one, not even the husband, has any right to throw a woman out of the house,” says Sulakshana Dange (name changed), a resident of Dharashiv in Maharashtra, who adds that abandoned wives and widows in rural areas, who face a life of great hardship, would especially benefit from the scheme. 

About 26.18 per cent of the beneficiaries are women, and 27.8 per cent are men. About 1,157 transgenders have also received a house under the scheme.        

In terms of social category, 60 per cent of the houses have been allocated to members of SC and ST communities and 25 per cent to other communities. Members of minority communities have received 15 per cent of the allocation. 

Why ownership matters

The latest NFHS-5 data shows the extent of gender disparity in property ownership in the 15-49 age group. Specifically, 42 per cent of women and 60 per cent of men own a house ( urban and rural).   

The disparity widens with age — the share of male house owners increases from 40 per cent in the 15-19 age group to 80 per cent in the 40-49 age group, whereas the corresponding increase among women is from 30 per cent to 52 per cent.

The report also shows that rural individuals are more likely than their urban counterparts to own both house and land.

Property ownership declines with schooling and wealth for both women and men. Ownership of a house declines from 45 per cent for women in the lowest wealth quintile to 40 per cent for women in the highest wealth quintile; for men, the corresponding decline is from 64 per cent to 54 per cent.

Female ownership under PMAY-G

Tabassum Momin, who works with Swayam Shikshan Prayog, an NGO advocating for women farmers in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra, says house ownership is one of the biggest means of women’s empowerment.   

According to PMAY-G guidelines, the house is typically allotted jointly to husband and wife, unless the beneficiary is a single woman.

However, the State has the option to allocate the house solely in the woman’s name. Additionally, to promote women’s empowerment, an advisory suggests including the names of female household members in the sanction and ownership details of all PMAY-G houses, either solely or jointly. If the initial sanction is in the male member’s name, female members can be added as secondary owners in the sanction letters.