Women in agriculture in India

Agriculture is the backbone of our country! While we have the Government interventions, some success stories on helping women in agriculture and the ground level field realities, it’s time to take a look at the women in agriculture in India.

Agriculture still plays the major role even though the tertiary and secondary sector are having a dramatic increase and a relative plunge in the land available for agriculture. That still is a different story all together.

The relevance of agriculture in this present-day era of industries still isn’t diminished in the eyes of the Indian economy as the raw material for industries and the demand of chemical, fertilizer, pesticides and other farm implement, helps in maintaining the industrial forges burning, and in turn keep the tertiary sector running too. 

Now having discussed on how important this sector has been, the question arises has the sector maintained its old patriarchal values intact and still tries to belittle the role of women.

If we look at some of the facts then we can see that the agriculture labor is having a larger participation rate for women in comparison to their male counterpart. The relative role of male participation is decreasing and shifting to urban labor, whereas the women labor composition is increasing in farm sector.

According to a policy paper by Swaniti initiative

The Women Farmer’s Entitlement Bill, 2011 highlighted that while women constitute more than 60% of the workforce in agriculture, their entitlements are often neglected. In fact, the Census of India does not define the term ‘farmer’. It classifies women in agriculture as ‘cultivators’ or ‘labourer’.”

This relative neglect of the women’s role in the agriculture sector has been an innate patriarchal characteristic of the Indian traditional agriculture sector. This has given a rise to the cry of “feminization of agriculture”

Feminization of agriculture:

To shed away the ignorant behavior towards the women’s participation, government agencies, civil societies and various NGOS have come together and have contributed to formations of various policies and initiative and have resulted a change at the level of policy initiative, even if not at the level of the material changes in rural agricultural spaces of India.

Let’s discuss why this need of feminization was realized

  1. Disproportionate productivity: the relative productivity of the women was seen as less due to the inaccessibility to the proper resources and implements as opposed to the resources available to the men involved, these range from the lack of banking, financing facilities.
  2. No ownership of the productive land: most of the land is owned by the men of the village and women are just forced to work over it and not have a say. This lack of ownership also results in lack of effort put in land, as this sort of land doesn’t provide with any sort of security. Moreover, without any name entitlement of land the women are not able to claim any benefits from the government for electrification and other such implements.
  3. Less wages: the wages offered to the women agriculture laborer is marginalized and really less as compared to the men. Let’s look at the data provided by swaniti initiative
Agriculture wages

Ploughing Sowing Harvesting Horticulture Workers Animal Husbandry Workers
Men Rs. 259 Rs 219.5 Rs. 217.9 Rs. 215 Rs. 178.8
Women Rs. 185.4 Rs. 179.7 Rs. 182.4 Rs. 152.2 Rs. 133.8

The women wages are 75 % of the men wages

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