Feminization of Agriculture Sector in India
Feminization is the increment of the share of women workforce in a particular sector. It also means the incorporation of women into a group/profession that men have been dominated for a longer period previously. In terms of the agriculture sector, we are specially talking about occupational feminization.
Present South Asia has lost the men’s role in agriculture due to industrialization. Therefore, empty space has emerged in the workforce of the agriculture sector. By now women are filling those spaces by engaging in agriculture and related professions.
Women’s Role in Indian Agriculture
According to the record of the Agriculture Census, 80% of agriculture employments is covered by women. Out of that 33% is worked as laborers and 47% are self-employers/entrepreneurs (Source: Agriculture Census).
Same as men, women can perform almost all the agriculture functions such as cultivation related activities (sowing, transplanting, weeding, irrigation, fertilizer application, harvesting, postharvest practices, etc.), allied activities (cattle management, milking, silage production, etc.), and integrated and diversified natural resource management without any discrimination.
Why Women Were Being Far From Agriculture?
Lack of literacy was a barrier for Indian women for participating in skilled agriculture sectors. According to statistics, only about 52 -70% of women workers are literate. Since the past, women were not allowed to educate due to gender disparity in society. It was the main reason for not having literate women for agriculture activities.
Not having land ownership is another major problem faced by women. In India, most of the cultivation land is owned by men. According to census data, only about 14% of women who are cultivating have ownership of their lands.
Since women don’t have land ownership, they have to face many more difficulties in obtaining credit loans. Banks usually consider lands as collateral. Due to that unfortunately women farmers are not allowed to request bank loans.
The next problem arises due to having physical difficulties compared to men. Since farm machinery is somewhat difficult to handle for women, they were moving away from new technologies.
In India, women are forced to marry at an early age. So that they are overfilled with duties related to their families. They don’t have enough time to spend farming. Society thinks that women are only here to care for children and maintain the household.
Steps Taken by the Government
Thinking of these barriers for women to enter and engage in agriculture, the government has taken several steps to encourage and support women who are willing to enter into agriculture and who are already engaged in agriculture
For women beneficiaries and all ongoing schemes/programs, and development activities, the government has earmarked at least 30% of the budget allocation.
Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana (MKSP)
This program has exclusively implemented on behalf of women by the Ministry of Rural Development aiming to empower women by increasing their participation in agriculture and create sustainable livelihood opportunities. MKSP comes under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihood Mission.
Women Self-Help Groups (SHG) are given more attention by the government and make them connect to micro-credit.
15th October of every year has been declared as the Women Farmer’s Day by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare recognizing the critical role of women in Agriculture.
How Do We Move Forward With Feminization of Agriculture?
The government banks should be encouraged to provide credit facilities to women farmers without considering the collateral situation.
Inventors should think of producing farm machinery and equipment that suit women. The government should invest in these projects to encourage them.
Responsible agriculture bodies can extent their extension services to provide information and to educate women about farming and related activities.
Employers should provide similar wage schemes to women employees without any gender discrimination.