Women play an important role in Indian agriculture in addition to their roles as wives, mothers and daughters-in-law.
According to the economic survey of 2017 – 2018, India has seen a ‘feminization’ of the Indian agriculture sector as men have been increasingly migrating to urban centres in search of employment, leaving behind their families (to reduce city cost of living). As a result almost 80% of the farm work is undertaken by women. However, they own just 13% of the land! It’s quite disheartening to see that the essential part of the workforce is devoid of their land-rights. Moreover, with low mechanization, their roles are largely restricted to manual jobs like sowing, weeding etc and not more decision based roles.
The gender based discrimination has always been visible at the policy level where women have not enjoyed equal rights as compared to their male counterparts. To counter the inequality, Mr. MS Swaminathan, former Rajya Sabha MP, introduced the Women Farmers Entitlement Bill in 2011. It was mainly drafted to address issues like land title of women, especially widows, water and other legal rights. Unfortunately, the bill didn’t see the light of the day and it lapsed in 2013. But, that does not mean, we get disheartened. As a member of society, we need to support female farmers both collectively and individually.
At Beforest, we are driven by the Permaculture Principles of ‘People Care, Earth Care and Fair Share’, which has been our guiding light since day one. Equal pay for women, full medical insurance, 20 days paid leave and education for their children are just some of the simple steps that we are taking in this direction. This is just the beginning and we hope to do more.