International Day of Rural Women (IDRW)

#GS2 #Women #RuralDevelopment

 

International Day of Rural Women (IDRW) is observed on 15th October. It is a UN observance, which recognizes “the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.” Government of India (GoI) has also declared 15th October as Mahila Kisan Diwas.

 

  • The Union Agriculture Ministry celebrated, ‘Mahila Kisan Diwas’ or the Day of Women Agriculturists on October 15 for the first time in India. It is being organized in association with the Ministry of Women and Child Development.This was being done to recognize the contribution of women in agriculture as 80% independent women in India were associated with the farm sector, while women lead 18% of all agricultural households. The tagline for the commemoration has been decided as - ‘Sashakt Mahila, Sashakt Bharat’ (empowered women, empowered India).

 

Significance: 

  • The primary objective of  “Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana (MKSP)” implemented by  Ministry of Rural Development is to empower women in agriculture by making systematic investments to enhance their participation and productivity, as also create and sustain agriculture based livelihoods of rural women. 
  • Under the Pariyojana, projects are conceived in such a manner that the skill base of the women in agriculture is enhanced to enable them to pursue their livelihoods on a sustainable basis.
  • Committee on CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination), to which India also is a signatory, in its General Recommendations (GR) called upon all States parties to ‘facilitate and support alternative and gender-responsive agricultural development programmes which enable small-scale women producers to participate in and benefit from agriculture and rural development’. 
  • In addition, ‘to address the unequal power relations between women and men, including in decision-making and political processes at the community level, and remove barriers to rural women’s participation in community life through the establishment of effective and gender-responsive rural decision-making structures’.
  • The 2030 Agenda for sustainable development recognises that rural women are key agents for achieving transformational economic, environmental and social changes required for sustainable development. 
  • Goal no. 5 have special significance for the advancement of rural women as it emphasizes on the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against women, creating opportunities for effective participation and leadership at all levels of decision-making, undertaking reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources.
  • To close the gender gap, it is crucial that women’s role and contribution be recognised, and efforts must be made to address the gender specific needs and barriers. 
  • Rural women have a right to equal opportunities and benefits from various policies and programmes. The State must ensure that rural women’s rights are protected and promoted.
  • The participation of women in agriculture is well-known. A decline in both male and female labour force in agriculture has been observed in the last three decades. 
  • The number of men in agriculture has decreased from 81 per cent to 63 per cent, and women from 88 per cent to 79 per cent. 
  • Deterioration in the number of women is significantly lower than the men, and this can be easily called the feminisation of agriculture.
  • The ministry was trying to ensure that women become part of mainstream agriculture, reap the benefit of every penny spent on agriculture and contribute to agricultural productivity as well as double the income of their families. 
  • Female labourers faced several inequalities. They work much longer hours and are paid lesser than their counterparts. Also, ignorance about their rights, opportunities and facilities make their participation in agriculture all the more tough.
  • The ministry has already earmarked at least 30% of budget allocation for women beneficiaries in all ongoing schemes and development activities.

 

Contribution of Women in Farming : 

  • Women play a crucial role in sustaining rural households and communities, improving rural livelihoods and overall wellbeing. 
  • They significantly contribute to agrobiodiversity conservation and agricultural production, food security and nutrition, land and natural resource management, building climate resilience, family incomes, health and education leading to improved quality of life.
  • Women account for a substantial proportion of the agricultural labour force. Census 2011 data shows that 65.1 percent of female workers depend on agriculture, either as labourers or cultivators as opposed to 49.8 percent of male workers. In Nagaland, 65.2 percent of female workers are cultivators and 7.3 percent are agricultural labourers, in comparison to 47.4 percent male cultivators and 5.8 percent agricultural labourers.
  • The significant presence of women in agriculture, women’s role and contribution remain unrecognised. 
  • Non recognition meant that women largely remain invisible in agricultural policies, schemes, programmes and budgets. 
  • As compared to their male counterparts, they lack equal access over land tenure, agricultural inputs, credit, markets, appropriate technologies and infrastructure.

 

Government Initiatives :

  • The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare implements various programmes of farmers including women in agriculture sector. 
  • As per directives for the Women Component Plan, the State Governments have been asked to ensure flow of funds to the tune of 30% for the benefit of women farmers.
  • The guidelines of Centrally Sponsored Scheme/Missions such as Support to State Extension Programmes for Extension Reforms under Sub-Mission on  Agricultural Extension(SMAE), National Food Security Mission, National Mission on Oil Seed and Oil Palm and National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture, Sub-Mission for Seed & Planting Material, Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization and Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH) stipulate that States and other Implementing Agencies are required to earmark at least 30 % expenditure on Women Farmers.
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