India: Rukmini Rao laments the raw deal of women farmers at Women Farmers’ Rights Forum Print E-mail
 Monday May 2, 2016

‘Women farmers need a fair deal’

Staff Reporter
V. Rukmini Rao, founder of Gramya Resource Centre for Women, addresses a meeting of women farmers at Yerpedu near Tirupati on Sunday.­ (SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT)

Though the population of women on the earth is roughly 50 per cent, the fact is that they still have little access to their own landholding. When farmers are finding it hard to eke out a living, the plight of the women among them is even more disturbing. It is unfortunate that women are still treated as aliens in the agricultural market yards.

The market committees are filled with men and market yard premises do not have even toilets. Such factors turn women away from farming,” says V. Rukmini Rao, Director of Gramya Resource Centre for Women, Secunderabad.

In an interview to The Hindu , Ms. Rao lamented at the fate of women farm labourers who continue to work up to the last days of pregnancy. These women attend to their domestic chores and also don their role as a farmer thus working for extended hours. In sharp contrast, women in the government sector get twelve-week maternity leave at the State level and six months at the national level, she noted.

Ms. Rao was here to participate in the two-day district-level consultation programme held under the aegis of Forum for Women Farmers’ Rights -- Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch (Makaam)and Rythu Swaraj Vedika (RSY), in association with SV University’s Centre for Women’s Studies. The meet concluded on Sunday after taking stock of the situation of farmers, analysing the impact of government policies and the State’s response to the facts gathered at the ground level.

We strongly suggest the use of local inputs such as initiatives to support women to have their own seed production and storage facility to bring down the input cost,” she said.

Stressing the need for support to landless women, she also suggested formation of a gender desk as is in vogue in Gujarat, a single window system to address women’s issues.

SVU professor D. Usha Rani, Uma Shankari of RSV, Women’s Initiatives (WINS) director R. Meera suggested gender sensitisation in government departments, besides recruiting women at key levels in the agricultural and extension wings to address to the issues of the women.

Consultation programme under the aegis of Forum for Women Farmers’ Rights ends