Women farmers deserve the right to identity

By Shipra Deo – 18 October 2019

On the 2019 International Day of Rural Women, Landesa’s Shipra Deo explores how land rights are an essential element for overturning misperceptions about the role of women in society and on the farm.

In a workshop with a group of agronomists who work in agriculture extension in India, I ask the participants to draw the picture of a farmer with whom they work. All but one of them draw male figures.

I go to farmer fairs organized by universities, the State Department of Agriculture, and agri-input companies. Most of the farmers visiting there are men. The scientists are men. The company representatives are men. Those organizing meetings and those attending are men.

I attend a policy meeting organized by the state agriculture department.  All sitting on the dais are men. All in the audience are men.

I watch agriculture programs on television, listen to agriculture programs on the radio, read farming magazines, and look at the advertisements for agricultural inputs – fertilizer, pesticides, seeds. Everywhere I see farmers being addressed as Kisaan Bhai (farmer brother).

I visit a state agricultural extension centerwhere rules stipulate that 33 percent of training participants must be women. I find that while centers conduct trainings for men on multi-layer farming, operation of modern farm implements, and drip irrigation technology, for women they organize trainings on making pickles and drying vegetables.

I look at the preschool text books. While teaching children about “people who help us,” the figure of a farmer is invariably male.

Traditions, customs, and patriarchal institutions push a narrative that farming is dominated by men. But the reality in the world’s rural places—in India and beyond—reveals a different story.

Traveling the countryside—in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Assam, Karnataka, Odisha, Kerala – one sees women shouldering responsibility on the farm. Sudevi prepares field bunds. Chenamma transplants paddy. Ramwati harvests potatoes. Anusuya weeds out unwanted plants. Lalitha winnows a wheat harvest. Sukanya sorts tomatoes. Rajrani sells vegetable in the local market.


Извор: WUNRN - 30.10.2019