Achieving gender equality in agriculture
Dr Banarsi Lal
Every year International Women Day (IWD) is celebrated on 8th of March across the globe. It is a global event. On this day the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women are celebrated with full enthusiasm. This day also marks a call to action accelerating gender parity. This day is marked across the globe with arts, performances, rallies, talks, seminars, awareness camps, conferences and marches. International Women’s Day has been occurring for well over a century and continues to grow from strength to strength. Theme for 2023 International Women’s Day is ‘DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality.’ The theme is aligned with the UN Women’s new multigenerational campaign, Generation Equality. The observance of International Women’s Day 2023 honours and celebrates the women and girls who are leading the way in the development of transformational technology and digital education. The theme will concentrate on innovative ways in which we can advance gender equality and the empowerment of women. In order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals transformative shifts, integrated approaches and new solutions are required particularly when it comes to advancing gender equality and women empowerment. Innovations provide unprecedented opportunities, yet trends indicate a digital divide and women are under-represented in the field of science and technology. It prevents them from developing and influencing gender responsive innovations to achieve transformative gains for the society. There is dire need to build a gender-balanced world. Collective actions and shared responsibility for driving a gender-balanced world is direly needed. According to Gloria Steinem, a world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist, “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights”. The concept of International Women’s Day was first emerged in early 1900s.The day was initially celebrated on 28th February,1909 when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, voting rights and better pay.
Although lot of efforts are made on gender equality but still it has not been realized. A gender pay gap still persists across the globe and women are still not present in equal numbers in politics, jobs and in business. Globally it has been observed that women’s education, health and violence against women are worse than men. It has been observed that one-in-five women faced violence from an intimate partner in the past year fuelled by new technology, such as through cyber-harassment. Men still control three-quarters of parliamentary seats. Women are largely excluded from peace processes. Violence against women remains pervasive. According to World Economic Forum Report 2017, it could take another 100 years before the global equality gap between men and women to disappear. An equal world is an enabled world. The year 2020 is considered as the pivotal year for advancing gender equality worldwide, as the global community takes stock of progress made for women’s rights since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action.
It has been observed that women are considered as the vital part of the Indian economy. Women farmers contribute enormously to the Indian agriculture. Women comprise the largest percentage of the workforce in the agricultural sector but they do not have control over all the land and productive resources. There is need to make efforts to bring about a positive change in knowledge, attitude and skills of the women farmers by providing training and technical advice and also assisting them in taking decisions in adoption of new agricultural technology. Generally women role in agriculture is systematically marginalized and underestimated. Many times women farmers are by-passed by male extension workers. It would be correct to state that women farmers in India have failed to get their due share in extension services apropos their contribution to the Indian agriculture. There is need to refine, modify and redesign the extension services in India so that the latest technologies can be reached to the women farmers effectively without any biasness. Women are considered as the best caretaker of the children and agricultural sector. Rural women play the pivotal role in agriculture from sowing to harvesting to post-harvest management. Women farmers make significant contributions to agricultural production, food security and nutrition, land and natural resources management and building climate resilience.. They play multidimensional role in agriculture and can play a crucial role in the second green revolution in India. Government of India is endevouring for the empowerment of rural women and has launched various innovative schemes especially for them. Although women have made significant progress in India in various sectors but still the gender inequalities remain pervasive in every dimension of society.
Although a progress has been made to gain equal rights for women but still there is need of many efforts for women equality especially in the rural areas of India. The role of women in agricultural and rural development and their efforts for ensuring the food security has been widely acknowledged. Although a lot of progress has been made but still the rural women are having low income, less education, limited land and inheritance rights. Extension services in India need to be refined, modified and redesigned so as to reach farm women effectively. The purpose of agricultural extension services can be achieved for sustainable rural development only if sincere attempts are made to provide and improve farm women’s access to the available extension services thereby leading to their technological empowerment. Women comprise 43 per cent of world’s agricultural force which rises to 70-80 per cent in some countries such as India. Farm women in India are enhancing agricultural production, improving food security and eradicating poverty. The Indian rural women face the significance inequality in farms even they do more agricultural work than men. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization( FAO) report, if women are given equal access to resources as men, agricultural yield can be increased by 2.5 to 4 per cent in the developed countries enough to feed at least 100 million more undernourished people. If rural women get opportunities and facilities, they can propel the country towards second green revolution and can change the landscape of the development. Rural women play a significant role in labour supervision and participation in post-harvest operations. Women farmers can be productive and enterprising as their male counterparts but are less able to access land, credit, agricultural inputs, markets, high value agrifood chains and obtain lower prices for their crops. Women in rural areas lack equal access to productive resources and assets, public services such as education, health care and infrastructure including sanitation while much of their labour remains invisible and unpaid even as their workload increases due to migration of their men. It has been observed that rural women face more difficulties than the rural men and urban women. They disproportionately experience poverty, exclusion and inverse effect of climate change. Profound changes in the mindset of the people are primarily required women empowerment. There are 732 Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) in India and in every KVK a special provision for training programmes for women are made. SHGs can play a significant role in rural women empowerment. KVK, Reasi of SKUAST-J is stressing on women empowerment through innovative agricultural techniques. Involvement of women in agricultural development process by ICAR has been further strengthened by several ways. Still these efforts are not sufficient to make a substantial dent on the overall agricultural scenario of the country. Various Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) have involved women on issues related to social empowerment of women. They also have given little attention on women’s role in agriculture. Endeavors are needed to bring significant improvement in the women’s access to the new agricultural technologies in India.
(The author is Head, KVK Reasi, Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology-Jammu).