Patna (Bihar): Women farmers and their supporters from various states in Eastern India came together at Navjyoti Niketan, Patna to voice their concerns, share their stories, and call attention to the fact that women’s contribution in farming is largely ignored. They came together under the banner of Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch (MAKAAM).
Women in the agricultural workforce face a large gender wage gap, earning up to 50 to 70 percent of men’s wages; and are trapped in unpaid, underpaid or unskilled work. They lack land ownership and control, holding a meager 12.78 percent of all operational landholdings.
Institutional discrimination and gender biased loan allocations prevents women’s equal access to credit. They face inequality in access to inputs, seeds, fertilisers, and agricultural extension services as compared to their counterparts.
Women farmers lack access to networks that support their growth, expansion and access to profitable markets. They are underrepresented in decision-making and institutional spaces and forums, thereby diminishing their voice, agency, and bargaining power.
Moreover, the significant work performed by women farmers remains unacknowledged, invisible and informal.
Women’s ownership of land is an issue, where only a handful of rural women have been able to successfully negotiate a small land holding in their name.
Women’s Self-Help groups come across legal ‘glass ceilings’ when applying for agricultural loans.
Single women or women farmers are asked by bank officers to bring along their husbands or fathers for certain transactions, such rules do not apply for men who want similar loans or transactions.
Despite several hurdles, there are many women who have successfully managed to carry out farming activities, and they shared their struggles and success stories.
The regional consultation continues today, February 22.