First, it exists!
As of today, 18th January is celebrated as Women Farmers Day. Why? The decision to mark today as Women Farmers Day came about to gather larger support for the ongoing farmer’s protests in the country.
In this article, we will cover –
1. What you need to know about the farmer protests
Since September 2020, farmers around the country are protesting the Indian Agriculture acts. These 3 acts include –
- The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act 2020
- Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) agreement on Price assurance and farm services Act
- Essential Commodities Act 2020
The Acts have been met with general disdain among farmers – who claim it will affect their daily earnings and benefit big players instead.
Read here to know more about why the farmer protests are taking place in India.
2. How do women farmers contribute to the economy?
So why do women farmers need to oppose these acts? Because women farmers constitute a very large part of the rural workforce. In fact, women do over 70% of agricultural work, says Mariam Dhwale, General Secretary, AIDWA.
According to Mariam, the amendment in the Essential Commodities Act will affect the public distribution system, impacting women and children more. Despite having such a large workforce of women farmers in India, only 12.8% of them own land or have access to land for agriculture.
Women farmers need better access to e-commerce, information, finance and communication technology to become empowered.
“ More women work as farmers than men, but their work is not seen as equal. This is a major national protest and I joined it so people know that we are also farmers – Sunita Rani, Farmer from Haryana
Women contribute significantly to agriculture in India – 98million women work in agriculture, either as cultivators or agricultural labourers (Census 2011) but they aren’t regarded as farmers and are often denied ownership of their family land. #FarmersProtests #womenfarmers pic.twitter.com/m7V5sYZiKw
— BehanBox (@BehanBox) January 18, 2021
3. Impact of women farmers participating in protests
Women farmers day or ‘Mahila Kisan Divas’ created by Samyukt Kisan Morcha aims to enforce farmers rights. In a country where women farmers
Women’s organisations participating in the march –
- National Federation of Indian Women
- All India Democratic Women’s Association
- All India Progressive Women’s Association
- Pragatisheel Manila Sangthan
- All India Agragrami Mahila Samiti
- All India Mahila Sanskritik Sangathan
They are writing history today along with their male counterparts – showing up in the thousands to protest against the three Central farm laws. #WomenFarmersAgainstFarmLaws pic.twitter.com/JILLJYJCVU
— The Team Punjab (@TheTeamPunjab) January 18, 2021
4. What do women farmers want out of the protests?
The farmers are rallying to join in protests to get Government to repeal the 3 acts. In short, the women farmers also want to seek out –
- Better health services for farmers
- Waiving off loans of self-help groups
- Urgent action against harassment by microfinance institutions
The main goal, however, is to support all farmers in their protests.
“ Both men and women will participate in the demonstrations across the country and together intensify the protests demanding the revocation of the three farm acts.” – Ashok Dhwale, President – All India Kisan Sabha
Has the Government tried helping women farmers before?
5. 4 national schemes to help women farmers
National Mission on Agricultural Extensions and Technology
In this national scheme, at least 30% of the total scheme beneficiaries are women. Also, a minimum of 30% of the resources meant for programmes and activities are for women farmers and women extension functionaries.
National Mission For Sustainable Agriculture
The scheme which aims to promote soil and water conservation, water use efficiency and rainwater development, will allocate 50% of the budget for small, marginal women farmers.
National Food Security Mission
The national scheme aims to promote farmer producer organisations for value chain integration, women farmers self-help groups and other local marketing efforts for pulses and millets.
Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana
The scheme, a subunit of the National Rural Livelihood Mission, has already benefitted over 6 lakh women farmers in Madhya Pradesh. The scheme aims to provide women farmers increased access to resources of other institutions. Read more on the scheme here.
Also read – 3 Top Government Schemes for Women Entrepreneurs
6. The rise of women entrepreneurs in agri-tech
Empowering women farmers is crucial to changing the landscape for women-led agribusinesses in India. Over 84% of women depend on agriculture as their livelihood. Women in urban areas are working on agri-startups and help centres to empower women in agriculture.
Businesses like Farmizen and Farmveda who use Instamojo are a few such agri-tech startups that have women at the hem.
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