GURGAON: “Sarkar bhi humein kisaan nahi maanti hai (even the government doesn’t consider us farmers),” said Manjula Rani, a woman farmer in her 50s from Palwal’s Aurangabad village.
Manjula, who was at Atoha on the Delhi-Agra highway along with nearly 1,000 women farmers to demand the repeal of the new central agriculture laws, said she’s been working in farms for 30 years but has to look to the men for resources. “Mehnat mazdoori hum kartein hain, lekin humhare hisse mein bas mehnat hi rehti hai. Na paise miltein hain na humare naam pe zameen hoti hai (we work hard and perform most of the big farming jobs, but we neither get the money nor the land ownership),” she said.
Since the stir began last November, thousands of women farmers have made their presence felt — driving tractors to Delhi’s borders and camping at various sites. On Monday, when they were asked to lead the protests to mark International Women’s Day, many said the time had come to move beyond token gestures and begin a national discussion on recognising women as farmers. Because of gender discrimination and practices like having land title
rights mainly in men’s names, women are denied the institutional support of banks, insurance firms, cooperatives and government departments.
Prof MP Singh, a former agriculture scientist from Haryana Agriculture University, said as per Census 2011 and Center for Land Governance index, women constitute 32% of India’s agricultural labour force and contribute 55-66% to farm production. Yet, their share of land holdings is just 12.8%.