Women - The unsung warriors of Indian Agriculture
Women are the backbone of any developed society. The central role of women in any society ensures stability, progress and long-term development of a nation. In agriculture sector primary focus is given to only one gender. Male is the dominant decision maker of this industry and benefit seeker of the policies. The kind of farming men practice is highly involved and commercially active, geared towards domestic and international markets. Agriculture sector as a whole has developed and emerged immensely by empowering men with technology. But this emergence is incapable of lifting the status of women labor as an integral part of the industry. In a developing country like India, agriculture contributes 13.5% to the GDP of the economy. It provides 55% employment in the country out of which a good number of work force is shared by women. Role of women in this sector cannot be ignored they comprise 33% of the agriculture labor force and 48% of the self-employed farmers.
In developing countries like India, agriculture continues to absorb and employ female work force but fails to give them recognition of an employed or hired labor. Women constitutes 38% of the agricultural labor force in developing nations. It is also estimated that 45.3% of the agricultural labor force consists of women only. Rural women work in farm, handles her responsibilities and also does her household activities. Among the household activities the primary job is of taking care of livestock or poultry farm. Livestock & poultry not only feeds her family but also allows her to earn that extra income. Rural women single handedly performs the back breaking activity of cattle management in most parts of the country. Cattle management involves cleaning of the shed & animals, watering the cattle, milking, fodder collection, making of farm manure etc. Women play a dominant role in livestock production and poultry. With the increase in rural men migrating to cities for better opportunities, women silently adorns many roles in the agriculture sector - from homemaker to laborer to cultivator and even entrepreneur , roles of rural women is changing very rapidly in Bharat. Women have started to predominate every level of agriculture and its value chain.
But a large number of women still remain as the "invisible contributors” under the cultural backdrop of Indian society. The Shanti’s, Nirmala’s, Janki’s , Padma’s and Gudia’s working in Indian farmlands as daily wage earners are still the unknown and ignored contributors to Indian Agriculture . Their employment is seasonal and provisional adding up to all sorts of uncertainties in their income cycle. Yet the number of these “invinsible contributors” goes up every year, about 80% of economically active women in India are employed in agriculture sector. To increase the productivity of Indian farmlands and double the farmer’s income gender specific interventions should be made. Women inclusive policies, women centric loans for small scale business, women driven entrepreneurial opportunities are the need of the day for rural India. Women centric agriculture extension efforts will allow them to shift their efforts in the right direction and establish their credibility in the rural society. When these women get empowered with opportunities and choices to make with regards to their career – only then will the society be liberated and the economy will grow with momentum. Only then food security will become a reality and further prospects for the current and future generations of women in rural society will evolve. Today, many countries tend to pay more attention to the agricultural sector than ever before, Indian government has also created policies understanding the role of women in agriculture and economy. Government has also started implementing various schemes to improve the entitlements of women farmers which aim to bridge the policy gaps that exits in the sector. The future of Bharat is changing and India is witnessing the biggest transfer of power not only in metropolitan cities but also in the countryside of our great nation. For you and me it is a blessing to witness this revolutionary shift in our society that was always biased to one gender. Gender equality now seems a reality – not so far away.