Agriculture

Women Farmers – Gender Inequality in Indian Agriculture:

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When most people think of agriculture, they see a man plowing a field and staring helplessly at the sky. This picture generally does not show female farmers. This shows that contrary to popular belief, the farmer is, in the eyes of the majority, a man, not a woman. Agriculture was founded by women, so without them, it would not exist.

Even in current times, agriculture is considered a male dominant business. Women are considered too fragile to work on the farmlands. Women are more abundant in agriculture but according to The Indian Human Development Survey, only 15% of the land is owned by women, on the other hand, men own a whopping 83%. These statistics show the extreme bias in the treatment of women in agriculture and how they are not treated as equal to men and considered rightful heirs to agricultural lands.

In India, women are engaged in almost every aspect of agricultural production, from planting through harvesting and beyond. Fertilization, planting, seeds selection and processing, harvest and storage are only some of the tasks that women do. Women dominate crucial post-harvest chores including processing and storage to the point where men’s contributions are negligible.

Gender discrimination in farming in India

Achieving agricultural sustainability requires overcoming gender disparities. Inequality makes it more difficult to improve productivity and eliminate food insecurity. Highly unequal income countries have lower levels of land production and are more liable to food insecurity. These gender differences hinder the progress in agricultural sector. Thus, it is the biggest threat to agricultural industry nowadays.

Female farmers constitute approximately half of the farmers in developing countries. Despite such a large number of women working in this field, they face restriction that male farmer does not. For example, they lack agricultural training and education, access to agricultural technology and not having the right to own the land. They can’t invest and the lack of access to modern technology and techniques creates a knowledge gap in women. 

Problems faced by women in Agriculture:

Women farmers face several gender-biased hurdles like

  • Land ownership issue,
  • Dealing in markets,
  • Financial problems,
  • Lack of agricultural training and education,
  • Bad working conditions,
  • and sexual harassment.

These obstacles hinder the progress of women farmers and they are disadvantageous in the field of farming.

1. Land ownership issue:

Not having land rights is probably the biggest obstacle and the lack of power to own the land hinders the performance of female workers. They cannot make a contract faming agreement without their own land property, ultimately knocking them out of the competition of growing better crops and earning good money for their family.

According to the data sets, about 73.2% of rural Indian women work in agriculture, yet only 12% own agricultural property. In 2020, the Supreme Court declared that women should have the same right to inheritance as men.

2. Dealing in markets:

Furthermore, women also face problems in the agricultural markets. They cannot independently bring their crops to the market. It is requisite for women to have a male with them while leaving the village or they need their husband’s permission. Even if they make it into the market, men in the market do not want to deal with women. At one stage or another, women will ultimately need a male to speak for her matter. This is a major obstacle and they can’t perform at optimum levels in such miserable conditions.

3. Financial problems

A woman’s access to credit is often restricted because of the inherent sexism that exists in our economic system. Women in underdeveloped nations like India, where cultural norms and a lack of collateral typically restrict them from borrowing money, are particularly affected. If they don’t have enough money to invest in capital, women farmers are less likely than men to buy and use fertilizer, seeds that don’t die in drought, sustainable farming practices, and other innovative tools and methods that increase crop yields.

4. Production Gap:

Despite their increasing efforts (women spend more hours each year in farms than men on average), women farmers lag behind their husbands in crop production and income. Farms controlled by women produce 20 to 30 percent less than male-controlled farms. According to the FAO, the reasons for this “production gap” have little to do with agricultural potential and more with gender-specific barriers.

5. Lack of agricultural training and education

The ability to farm effectively requires knowledge of various farming methods; unfortunately, the access that women farmers have to agricultural extension and training facilities is limited. To ensure that rural women have proper access to training and agricultural technology, it is vital to consider their specific requirements and limits.

6. Bad working conditions

Farmer women are undoubtedly the most abused employees in our nation, even more susceptible than male farm workers, despite their critical role in delivering the food on our plates. Workplace discrimination and a macho culture make it difficult for women to develop in their careers, especially in the fields. Women in these industries generally get the least desirable and lowest-paying employment. They are often the first to be laid off.

Besides the numerous challenges they encounter, undocumented farmworker women are often paid minimum wage or less, have no health insurance, and get no sick or vacation days.

In other words, female farm workers confront practically all of the challenges that male farm employees encounter, as well as ones that are mainly unique, such as sexual harassment, pregnancy and gender inequality, and the additional obligation of being the main caregiver for children.

7. Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a major problem for female agricultural labourers. Nearly all of the farmworkers who took part in a Human Rights Watch survey claimed they had been sexually harassed or assaulted, or knew somebody who had been.

Investigations from the field provide light on the frequency of these incidents. Hundreds if not thousands of female agricultural workers had to have sex with supervisors to acquire or maintain their jobs, and/or put up with a continual bombardment of grabbing and caressing, as well as sexual solicitations from supervisors.

Unwanted sexual approaches are a common reason for women to dress like men. The “fil de calzon,” or “field of panties,” is a term used by agricultural worker women to describe the area where they worked since so many women were raped there by supervisors.

Documentation status exacerbates these incidences of sexual harassment. As an example, women may be reluctant to report abuses of their rights out of concern that they may be reported to immigration officials.

How to overcome gender inequality?

Helping women to have proper control over all levels of production will increase the production of agricultural commodities. Gender barriers must be completely removed to support the development of small-scale women farmers. When men and women work together, the country’s gross agricultural product increases rapidly, ultimately helping to stabilize the economy.

There are numerous strategies which can be utilized to reduce the levels of gender inequality. Some of them are explained below.

1. Making women the owner of farm lands

This is the most crucial step in eliminating gender inequality. When women have their own land. they can make better choices about the crops. This ultimately results in empowering women and accelerating their crop production. If a woman cannot own a land, she cannot make right decisions for her crops.

2. Giving women access to agricultural services

nother technique to improve the working conditions for women in agriculture is providing them proper access to agricultural services, training, and education. This involves developing women oriented training centers where they are provided proper knowledge and guidance about innovative methods of cultivation, information about subsidies, market trends, and financial guidance.


Across villages, sub-districts, and districts in India, the India National Rural Livelihoods Project has organized 300,000 self-help groups (SHGs) of rural women since 2011. Rural poor, especially women, are encouraged to save via SHGs so that they may become customers of banks, microfinance institutions, insurance companies and other financial organizations that provide loans and other financial services. A total of $70 million has been saved by member homes so far. ‘

3.Improving working conditions for women

Women do more hard work than men but they still get low wages. This issue must be addressed timely. When women will have equal pay rights, they wil become financially empowered. More women will join this ever-growing industry and it will eventually support in stabilizing the economy of developing countries.

Conclusion:

Efforts to promote women farmers are gaining traction across the world. According to an FAO research, eradicating gender biased attitudes in agriculture will not only empower women farmers but will also aid in the alleviation of poverty. According to the research, emerging nations are a hotspot for undernourished individuals, and women in these countries may play an important role in enhancing food supplies for these people. When females have sufficient agricultural training and education, food supply can grow by 30%, therefore eradicating hunger. Furthermore, financially secure female farmers would prioritize their families’ health, nutrition, and education, which is a favorable improvement for agricultural families.

FAQs

How does gender affect agriculture?

About half of the population of farmers are women. Despite their number, they are not treated as equals. Their wages are low and the working conditions are poor. They are not given equal land rights, credit, wages, access to markets, and proper agricultural training and education

How women impact agriculture in India?

In India, approximately 85% of the rural women are involved in agriculture. They are better farmers than men because of their docility, obedience and dexterous hands. Women can help increasing agricultural production by 30%.

Why women are required in Farming?

Empowered women farmers are the need of this hour. Underdeveloped countries have a high index of malnourished people. With the help women food production will grow, thereby decreasing the poverty and hunger in the country.

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