NEW DELHI: With women participating in great numbers in the ongoing farmers’ protests, around Delhi and elsewhere where the movement that started from November 26 has been spreading, the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), has demanded recognition of women’s rights as farmers and have urged the government to adopt the draft national policy for women in agriculture that had been created in 2009, at a press conference at the Press Club of India here on Friday.
AIKS, the CPM’s farmers’ wing, which has been one of the main organisations supporting the movement against the three contentious farm laws that the farmers want repealed, on Friday highlighted the fact that, “72 million women have lost their jobs in the allied sector in the last five years of agrarian distress” and that women who have been widowed because of 400,000 farmers having committed suicide are yet to receive any debt waiver or rehabilitation package yet. “The lack of recognition as farmers and workers has seriously jeopardised the access of women to social security and benefits. Most women are not eligible for even the meagre and inadequate income support that farmers get under the PM Kisan Nidhi scheme,” said AIKS general secretary Hannan Mollah.
Given this context, “there is need to focus on challenges facing women and some of these have been addressed in the Draft National Policy for Women in Agriculture, that was drafted by National Commission for Women in 2009. These rights pertained to the recognition of women as ‘farmer’ and ‘worker,’ right to land and natural resources, right to food and food security, right to livelihood, decent work and freedom from debt and right to regulated markets and fair prices. The finalized policy was submitted to the agriculture ministry for subsequent action,” said AIDWA general secretary Mariam Dhawale, adding that, “unfortunately all subsequent governments have ignored these recommendations.”
Some of the proposals in the draft include amendments in all laws including personal and customary laws for joint pattas and implementation of land reforms from this perspective, implementation of joint pattas under Forest Rights Act. Recording of women’s land rights with focus on the rights of women and single women headed households including widows, abandoned and deserted women, cooperatives run by women, women-farmers and workers in agriculture and allied sectors be recognised and registered as workers and be given social security benefits such as childcare, health care and old age pensions, etc.