If you are living in India, you are aware of the current situation of farmers. There have been agitations and protests by several farming organizations. Farming is the backbone of the nation and farmers are our lifelines. It is for the benefit of these people that institutions like Makaam are fighting.
India is an agricultural economy. We learned that in school. We knew what farming is and why it was so important for our economy and nation. A lot of us had relatives or families in villages and we even saw farming communities. It was a proud, honest occupation. Farming of any kind requires intense labor, several months of toiling and patience. You have to be accepting of nature, its myriad moods and its tantrums. A farmer’s life is anything but predictable. They have to wait year long for something that may not come on time. Or it can come too soon. Nature takes its revenge on mankind in cruel ways and farmers suffer the most. Farming is also not a well-paying job. Farmers can spend years to earn what an educated man may earn in a month. But it remains the most vital occupation of India and any modern country. Because without our farmers, what are we going to eat? Poverty, bad weather, lack of water and lack of sanitation are just some problems they face. But there is a deeper problem facing the farmers.
Are you aware that women are involved in a staggering 70% of farming work? Farming is labor heavy and a lot of us think it is a man’s job. The reality could not be further from this. Women are encouraged to support and share the workload in rural areas and villages. Farming is a way of life and a family business for many communities. Hence from childhood, girls and boys both are taught this occupation. Despite this, a woman’s role as a farmer remains unacknowledged. Farming is a long and tedious process. It begins right from sowing seeds to knowing when to cut your crops. Modernization is also affecting the way farming works.
A lot of men from rural areas now migrate to cities. This means that the woman becomes the daily breadwinner or head of the house. She also has to look after the farm or ancestral property. There’s a shocking twist to this story. Women are not allowed to own or share in property rights. They don’t get loans or any special benefits available to male farmers. The decisions remain with the men of the house and the woman just has to act on them. They need a strong support system and that comes in the form of organizations like Makaam. Makaam stands for Mahila Kisan Adhikaar Manch (Forum for Women Farmers’ Rights).
Based in Secunderabad, Makaam has been fighting hard to ensure female farmers get their due. The Government fails to recognize women or female farmers as equals to male farmers. They have no ownership rights or financial status because of their gender. This has pushed them to a corner and that is highly unfair. Makaam is a casual forum for organizations, individuals and researchers to come together. It brings them under one roof and lets them share their ideas, thoughts, and opinions. Without a collective movement, there will be no chance of women receiving any fair treatment. Makaam and its allies want women to get fair wages, property rights, a say in decision making and sustainable livelihoods. The Government should also provide schemes that offer training and development of skills that benefit female farmers. Female farmers include cultivators, laborers, land developers, fisherwomen, salt pan workers, tea estate workers and anyone working in forests or land.
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