A glimpse at the achievements of a woman economist

In this article we will have a glimpse at the life of Bina Agarwal who is an Indian, feminist and developmental economist who has foreseen and worked strenuously to bring about an economy growing steadily to progress the nation to rank high among the powerful economies of the world. Her exceptional works have touched upon various domains of land, property rights, agriculture, gender inequality and laws governing our social and economic systems

In a nation where a woman's social status rely predominantly upon her husband's position in the society, Bina Agarwal is a figure to look upon with pride who has bagged a prominent place among the international economists which again has been reigned in majority by males. It should be noted that one of the main factors that hinders economic growth of India is the fact that majority of women are employed in agriculture and only 20% work in sectors outside agriculture limiting their access to other sources where as 57% of men are employed outside agriculture. Women should be let to explore and exploit her various skills and capabilities so as to contribute to our economy directly or indirectly like Bina Agarwal

Professional positions

Presently she is the Professor of Development Economics and Environment at the University of Manchester, UK. She was Director of the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi University. She is also the President of the International Society for Ecological Economics. She was a visiting professor in School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan and in Faculty of Arts and Sciences in Harvard University. She has also served as the President of International association for Feminists Economists. These are only a few prestigious positions held by this eminent personality


She obtained PhD in Economics from Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi in 1978, M.A in Economics from University of Cambridge, UK in 1977, B.A in Economics Tripos From University of Cambridge, UK in 1972 and B.A (Honours) Economics from University of Delhi in 1970


Honorary Doctorate from University of Antwerp, April 2011
Tufts University's Global Development And Environment Institute awarded her with Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought, 2010
For her literary and educational works she was awarded Padma Shri by the President of India, 2008
The Hague(Netherlands),Institute of Social Studies(ISS) conferred a honorary doctorate to her for her works towards environmental and political development, 2007
She was the first recipient of Ramesh Chandra Award for her outstanding contributions in the field of Agricultural Economics, 2005
Malcolm Adiseshiah Award for distinguished contributions to Developmental Studies, 2002
Book Awards
1. Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy Book Prize 1996, given by Association for Asian Studies for the best English non-fiction book on South Asia. She was the first South Asian to win this prize
2. Edgar Graham Book Prize 1996, given by Department of Development Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (Univ of London) for works on agricultural or industrial development in Asia or Africa
3.The K.H Batheja Award 1995-96 given by the Batheja Trust( Bombay University) for best works in Indian Economic Development

MacArthur Research and Writing Grant for Individuals, 1990-91,The John D and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Chicago
Bunting Institute, Radcliffe, Harvard University: Bunting Fellowship,1989-90
Miranda House, University of Delhi: Prize for Best Academic Record in Economics,1970;First prizes in essay competitions, Dept of Economics,1968,1969

Publications and works

She has been author to books like Gender and Green Governance, A Field of One's Own: Gender and Land Rights in South Asia,Cold Hearths and Barren Slopes, Mechanization in Indian Agriculture. She has done editing on Psychology, Rationality and Economic Behaviour: Challenging Standard Assumptions, Capabilities, Freedom and Equality: Amartya Sen's Work from a Gender Perspective, Women and Work in the World Economy, Structures of Patriarchy: State, Community and Household in Modernizing Asia, Women, Poverty and Ideology in Asia: Contradictory Pressures, Uneasy Resolutions

Apart from these she has written articles and given prominent lectures on gender biases, land ownership, sustainable livelihood, agriculture and rural transformation. Her literary works include Monsoon(Book of poems) which has been widely appreciated

Views on participation of women in the Indian economy

In her book Gender and Green Governance Bina Agarwal has touched upon the adequacy and possibilities that could be generated when women came into the scene of forest governance. The question of women participation in the process of reservation of forests has been raised. Forests provide livelihood to millions of the rural population including women and the proper utilization of all natural resources including forests are inevitable for our overall economic growth. She has pointed out that women participation in various sectors of political and economic significance has been excluded or overlooked. Also the inadequacy of government in meeting the needs of rural women for a source of domestic energy which is healthy and does not pollute the environment has been mentioned. In the book , A Field of One's Own: Gender and Land Rights In South Asia ,the author has commenced by penning down a few lines from a folksong sung by women in some parts of north west India when they are married and led away in a palanquin (doli) to their marital homes. The song reflects on the grief of women being cut off from her home and native village. Her father had always assured her that her brother and she is considered the same but after marriage women have to leave her home ,when her brother is entitled to ownership of the ancestral property. Also widows and women who are abandoned by husbands are left to live on the streets as she never has a claim over the land ownership. These women who work alongside with men on the agriculture lands deserve a share for their hard work, to bring up their children under a roof which requires them to own a piece of land. The author has remarked that even though inheritance rights are provided to women they are seldom practiced which puts these women to live in poverty. By ensuring land ownership is gained by women, the economic and political status of women can be improved to great extents as owning lands is seen as a symbol of political power and good social status in villages. Thus the important factor affecting women can be driven out which according to the author is the gender gap in having property rights. The book, Women, Poverty and Ideology in Asia: Contradictory Pressures, Uneasy Resolutions throws light on the conflicts affecting women of poor South Asian countries. Even when they are required to work in income generating sectors to provide for their families, the gender bias comes to play refraining them and to follow social norms which doesn't accept her active participation in male dominated work fields. In various of Bina Agarwal's works and interviews she has tried to project the role of women in a nation's economical growth.

Her research methodologies, analysis of economies of various nations and developmental studies have influenced and made a global impact, and are truely inspirational for millions of women aspiring to make achievements in life

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