135 million. That’s how many we are in India alone. Out of this number, about a 110 million live in villages. 84% of these women living in villages are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. Though the participation of women in terms of labor is high, there is a disproportionately low percentage of women who own agricultural land. [Picture Credit: Aquaponics ]
75% of the agricultural labor is done by women. Almost the entire process of rice cultivation, which is one of the top produces and exports of India, is done by women. This is not just because most of the men in the village are migratory laborers in cities, also because women are seen as cheaper labor. Their small, petite hands, help in sowing better, though that’s a truth never acknowledged.
Women form a larger proportion of farm labor, because they are efficient and come for a lower price than men
Prime Minister recently honored Rambai, a farmer from Bargarh Orissa, who overcame all odds to become a successful farmer (Telegraph). She gave birth to two girls, for which she faced separation from her husband. After that she lost her elder daughter and then got widowed. Beating all that, she is now at a point where she is able to support her daughter’s education and sustain a life. However, she is still a landless farmer, her fate resting in the hands of the patriarchal landlord on whose land she farms on rent.
Picture Credit The Telegraph
Many a times, these women are not even aware of their rights as farmers. There are no specific schemes targeted at meeting their needs as women. For example, if a nursing mother is at the fields, there is no one to take care of her toddler while she works. Anganwadis, in most parts of the country, exist for the namesake.
As per FAO, only about 10% of agricultural land is owned by women
In another shocker, a study done by Landesa, a rural development institute, it came to light that most of the rural women do not ask for their rights in paternal property, since they consider dowry as their share in property. Ironically enough, all their ‘inheritance’ goes into paying for their own oppression. They never belong to their husband’s house, in case the husband passes away before the in-laws. There is very little, perhaps negligible awareness on succession rights that were amended in 2005.
Anganwadis are for the namesake. Rural women are not aware of their Rights of Inheritance as per the new amendment. They believe dowry is their only share in property.
Picture Credit: oneworld
Problems are many. Women got left behind in the Green Revolution to a great degree, which adversely affected small farmers and the poorest of households the most. The gap only widened itself with time. Another (digital) revolution is propelling itself, and it is time we revisit the situation of the most marginalized and vulnerable section of the population- the rural poor small farmer woman, who is landless.