The Unseen Force: Women's Quiet Influence on Farming

Women are often overlooked in Indian agriculture (This image has been created with MidJourney)
Women are often overlooked in Indian agriculture (This image has been created with MidJourney)

Women farmers navigate a challenging territory where their voices frequently echo unheard, rendering them anonymous and overlooked. Breaking through these barriers is no small feat, particularly when met with the resistance of traditional gender roles entrenched by the 'men of farming'.

Overcoming the pervasive lack of recognition demands a relentless resolve, as women farmers tirelessly strive to carve out a livelihood to sustain their families. According to Leena Sharma, a farmer from Himachal Pradesh, “The main reason why women’s contribution is disregarded is because they remain home-bound. They are often not involved in the selling process of their produce. They work on the farmlands and toil hard but it is often the men who go to the markets to retail what is being sown.”

While some may assume that the ‘soft work’ of agriculture is often allocated to women, Leena clarifies that such is not the case. “Women are as capable of handling the farm machinery.”

She continues, “Another big trial for women is that they lack the ownership of land. Even creating the Krishak Praman Patra is a big challenge. For men, it is easier because they own the land.” Besides, women are suppressed, and lack the necessary network to drive the results of their produce.” Sharma has been able to mitigate such problems via the social media showcase of her work and by tying up with journalists.

Mamta Sharma, another farmer from Himachal Pradesh expressed, “Women must earn the reward for their hard work. Besides, they are unable to forge a network with larger organizations because their desire for knowledge is often looked down upon. Many times, it is women pulling other women down with their jibes.”

Bhavana Nilkanth Nikam, a farmer from Nasik District, Maharashtra has similar concerns. “While it is the same in my state too, my household is different. Here, I am the decision-maker.” Nikam hails from a farming family and was tasked to start working on agricultural land soon after her marriage. Since that time, she has been single-handedly taking care of these affairs. “Initially, I did fail. But my family was supportive of everything I did. I was the first in the region to create a playhouse and put in place innovative methods for traditional farming.”

Sharing advice for fellow women farmers, she says, “A woman can become Laxmi, Saraswati, or Durga basis the situation. We are powerful forces and we must portray ourselves in an empowered light because we deserve so.” In the coming future, she hopes to change the image of women farmers in the country. “It’s all about self-belief,” she says.

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