MAHILA KISAN ADHIKAAR MANCH
Forum For Women Farmers' Rights
Forum For Women Farmers' Rights
MAKAAM - Charter of Demands for Women Farmers
By 2011-12 (68th NSSO Round), 48.9% of the total workers in India were in Agriculture (43.6 male and 62.8 female), 24.3% in Secondary (25.9% male and 20% female) and 26.8% in Tertiary (30.5% male and 17.2% female). As per this 68th Round of NSSO, 64.1% of rural workers in India were engaged in Agriculture, when it comes to distribution by industry of work. It is worth noting that this comprises of 59% of the ‘usual status’ male workers and 75% of female workers in rural India. Most rural women are “self-employed”, that too in agriculture, working on the family’s land and hiding a large proportion of unpaid labour (Significantly more rural females as “self-employed” (593), than casual labour (351) or regular wage/salaried (56) in every 1000 rural female workers (2011-12)).
Data compiled from Census 2011 on Cultivators and Agricultural Labourers reflects a similar picture: 65.1% of female workers depend on agriculture, either as cultivators or agricultural labourers, while only 49.8% of male workers do the same.
In terms of absolute numbers, 14.98 crore female workers are in agriculture (cultivators: 3.60 crores and agricultural labourers: 6.16 crores.
Other empirical evidence shows that women carry out 60-75% of all farming related work across most regions of India and across most crops grown. More women-days go into farming than men-days in a variety of agricultural operations, which are divided and performed based on gender. Gender wage gaps are widely prevalent when it comes to differential wage rates for men and women in rural India, however.
As per Agriculture Census 2010-11, the percentage share of female operational holdings in total operational land holdings is only 12.79% and the share in operated area is only 10.36%. Meanwhile, coming to land ownership, recent reports indicate that only 6% of rural Indian households have at least one woman owning land. Out of all the rural households which own some land, 11% are households where at least one woman owns some land. 89% of rural households having some land keep out women from accessing any rights to such property despite agriculture and land being such an important part of an overwhelming majority of Indian rural women’s existence!
The term “farmer” evokes only the image of a male farmer and women farmers remain largely invisible as far as the State and society are concerned.
While the above is the case of lack of identity and citizenship for women farmers in general, the situation of more marginalized women like dalit and adivasi women requires much more attention and action. According to an ILO study, dalit and adivasi women farmers comprise 81% of farming women in India[i].
In 2007, based on the Kisan Ayog recommendations, the National Policy for Farmers was adopted and it defined a Farmer as ‘a person actively engaged in the economic and/or livelihood activity of growing crops and producing other primary agricultural commodities and will include all agricultural operational holders, cultivators, agricultural labourers, sharecroppers, tenants, poultry and livestock rearers, fishers, beekeepers, gardeners, pastoralists, non-corporate planters and planting labourers as well as persons engaged in various farming related occupations such as sericulture, vermiculture and agro-forestry. The term will also include tribals engaged in shifting cultivation and in the collection, use and sale of minor and non-timber forest produce’. Such a definition adopted in the official agricultural policy of India should have conferred the rightful recognition to, and supported women cultivators and agricultural workers, the ones who are visibly working in agricultural production but also those who declare themselves to be ‘principally engaged in housework’. It is worth noting that 61.6% of rural women aged 15 to 59 years report household work as their principal usual activity status, with 45% engaged in various activities for obtaining food for the household: working on kitchen gardens, maintaining household animal resources, collection of food and food processing activities. Even this so-called household work is therefore farming, technically speaking, as per the National Policy for Farmers, apart from the involvement of women reported as self-employed workers or casual labour in agriculture in a more overt and direct sense!
However, this policy definition of farmers, and therefore women farmers, has not been actualized in practice and women farmers continue to be invisible, neglected and discriminated against. Meanwhile, there is also evidence that shows that women, if provided the same support systems that are extended to male farmers and same access to resources, will produce 20-30% more in terms of productivity. There is also enormous evidence to show that recognizing women farmers is critical to addressing food security issues at all levels, in addition to meeting various development goals. Most importantly, women’s empowerment and equality with men as guaranteed in the Indian Constitution, requires that all their rights are upheld and protected.
While women work the hardest in this arena, lack of recognition as farmers – primarily because of land ownership resting in the hands of men in our patriarchal society – means that they are being denied the very basic livelihood rights. The agricultural research system, training and extension systems, marketing systems, risk insurance systems, credit and other support systems systematically ignore women. On the other side increasingly land, water and other natural resources are becoming alienable commodities vested into the hands of profit mongering corporations. Land rights for women needs to be located within this broader context of loot of natural resources.
As a collective, MAKAAM believes that the State should restructure its policies around basic livelihood resources and their use and also reframe agricultural programs to enable the poor including women across different social groups to get ownership to livelihood resources and rightful access to government support and services. Our demands below should be read in the light of this broader framework and a proposal for change the MAKAAM wishes to bring about. The demands are broadly classified as Rights over Resources and Entitlements to support systems (schemes, subsidies, institutional participation etc.). Further, demands for various categories of women farmers have been listed in distinct sections of this Charter of Demands.
I CHARTER OF DEMANDS FOR ENTITLEMENTS & SUPPORT TO WOMEN IN FARMING:
Operationalize the definition of Farmer: Recognize women farmers including land owners and women working on others’ lands with a special focus on most marginalized, according to National Policy for Farmers 2007. Such an operationalization requires the inclusion of Women Tenant farmers, livestock-rearing women farmers, fisherwomen and women dependent on forests to be included in the definition.
Mainstream women farmers in all government programmes: The government should make policies which recognize women’s work in agriculture by providing support in all spheres of intervention related to rural farm livelihoods. This includes technical support in the form of agriculture implements to reduce drudgery. Support should be provided to develop innovative tools and technologies to reduce drudgery and propagate use of the tools. IEC material and support services to promote ecological agriculture need to be made available at the Panchayat level.
High priority should be given to rain-fed agriculture where small and marginal women farmers are involved, to promote food crops (with a focus on biodiverse crops like millets and vegetables) to ensure food security and climate change mitigation and adaptation (instead of cash crops such as cotton, maize etc).
Promote collective farming by women, allot land to landless women and invest to develop such land.
Convergence efforts to be strengthened to bring all agriculture-related services to women farmers’ doorsteps.
All women farmers to be provided identity cards and Kisan Credit Cards.
Demands related to access to inputs
a. Finances (loans as well as subsidies/grants): at least 2/3rds should be subsidies/grants.
Existing financial institutions should have customized terms and conditions for loans to women farmers including SC, ST, Single women and differently abled women.
All women farmers including share croppers to have access to bank accounts (Jan Dhan Yojana), credit, irrespective of land title deeds – implementation of Kisan Credit Cards. Target to be set with a fixed allocation to incrementally reach at least 50%, for Kisan Credit Cards to be issued to women farmers. Implement the provision to provide credit at 4% for consumption as well as production without demanding collateral.
Government should make policies for women farmers to disburse capital for inputs to promote ecological agriculture
Financial support to be provided to women’s farmer collectives to lease or develop infrastructure for maintaining grain banks, seed banks, godowns for storage of crops and primary agriculture processing. Priority to be given to dalit, SC/ST hamlets.
Public investment to be increased to support women farmers in rain-fed farming to promote sustainable practices enhancing soil fertility (application of silt from lakes to the land).
Adequate and appropriate disaster compensation fund to be set aside, specifically to support women farmers.
Separate banks should be set up for marginalized farmers including smallholders and women farmers. Here, there should be space reserved for women farmers including in governance structures. Further, Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies should be strengthened, with reservation of at least 50% for women at all levels.
In commercial banks also, there should be policy directives that lay down fixed allocations and priority/primacy given to marginalized farmers including women farmers in a proportionate fashion.
Rainfed women farmers should have similar levels of financial support and investment as irrigated farmers.
Public investments should be made in communitarian agro-enterprise development, with adequate handholding until the enterprise manages to take off, including on capacity building on various fronts.
To reduce the burden of gendered roles and responsibility related to food security and other household needs, and to also build on women’s existing skills and knowledge, women should be supported for running seed banks that revive seed diversity and promote seed self reliance; similarly, tool banks for drudgery reduction need to be set up in all villages.
b. Demands related to extension services
All agricultural institutions’ training programs and Farmers’ training centres, ATMA (Agricultural Technology Management Authority) as well as the training of Indian Administrative Services should include the issues of women’s land ownership and women farmers in their syllabus/curriculum.
Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana (MKSP) should be scaled out/replicated at a massive scale, and strengthened.
Women farmers should be technically equipped by training and capacity building through dissemination of information related to sustainable agriculture, credit, market, government schemes, financial literacy, enterprise management, legal literacy etc.
Mandatory inclusion of women farmers (including millet based biodiverse agriculture workers) in extension services. Technical and informative agricultural trainings, capacity building programmes of the State to be directed towards women farmers.
c. Demands related to Women Farmer Collectives/Cooperatives
Women producer collectives should get equal recognition and support as private companies in terms of investment, access to resources, infrastructure and other subsidies.
Promote and support women farmers’ cooperatives and collectives, learning from successful models across the country. Formalize the arrangements to enhance land-based livelihoods.
Provide training to women leaders of farmer cooperatives and producer cooperatives including financial literacy, legal literacy and market literacy.
Provide low cost credit to the collectives and cooperatives.
Ensure the participation and leadership of women in cooperative organizations, Kisan Sangh, Kisan Mitra and land management committees.
Trainings and capacity building efforts should be brought to the village level to include more and more women farmers into the effort.
d. Demands related to Administrative Setup
Recruitment and Training of Personnel: 50% women personnel must be recruited at all levels in the Agriculture and Extension Services Departments as well as making gender sensitization a mandatory component of all trainings to the staff. 50% women should be recruited in the positions of Krishi Prasar Seva, technical and management. Reservation of 50% seats for women farmers in Large Area Multi-Purpose Societies (LAMPS) and Primary Agriculture Credit Societies (PACS) in membership and in the executive body in 3 years’ time.
New cadre of women Eco-Workers who are community animators skilled in mobilizing women farmers should be developed for linking with state programmes.
Implementation of anti-sexual harassment Act should be ensured in all institutions and departments.
e. Demands related to Market Access
Market yards should be made women friendly, with easy access (which also means increasing the number of such yards), with necessary facilities and especially, toilets.
Ensure mandatory inclusion of women farmers and women farmer collectives/vendors in market management committees.
Mandatory inclusion of millets and diverse pulses in ICDS and mid-day meals, produced and procured locally from women farmers’ groups, to ensure market support to them and also nutritious meals for children.
Allocate outlays and provide subsidies to women’s collectives for storage facilities, value addition, processing and transportation of their produce and products.
(Bio) Input production by women’s collectives including seeds should also be supported with market avenues including by large scale promotion of ecological agriculture.
f. Attention to distressed farmer families
Families of farmers who have committed suicide must be recognized as distressed. Their loans should be waived off and support provided to restart sustainable agriculture – all such crop investments should be fully subsidised. The widowed women to be provided legal aid to gain their land rights. Education support to be provided to children in such families.
Several states have procedures laid down for ‘investigation’ into farm suicide cases. Such “verification committees” should have marginalized women members included, and all members should undergo gender sensitization trainings. Further, such investigation processes should be automatically triggered for all cases of suicides in an agricultural household, rather than being triggered by complaints filed.
More concrete measures should be put into place to prevent suicides including sound short term measures around help lines, counseling etc.
g. Integration with MNREGS
Small and marginal women farmers should be recognized and support to develop their lands should become part of the works. Demand for works up to Rs20,000 per farmer per year should be taken up in a period of 15 days. Revised MGNREGA guidelines – soil and water conservation works, fencing, leveling, horticulture, vermin pits, bund repairs canals, SRI and other locally suitable work should be rigorously implemented.
Women friendly worksite facilities should be created through convergence with different government schemes.
Individual should be made the unit for the scheme and not household, with each individual worker entitled to 100 days of work.
h. Universal Coverage for Social Security Schemes
All farm women including laborers should be able to access universal coverage for all social security schemes such as pension, maternity entitlements (for at least six months), Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), accident and life insurance etc. Individual should be the unit for entitlement and not household.
Pension should be two thousand rupees or at least half the minimum wages per month, and for women, the age criteria should be lower compared to men and universalised.
i. Demands related to Water
Women farmers should be provided water resources, including shared wells, sprinklers, drip irrigation and other water conservation technologies to promote sustainable agriculture with high returns.
j. Demands related to budget allocations
Allocation for agriculture budget should be increased: this should be at least 25% of total budget allocations, with adequate emphasis on all different components.
At least 30% of all fertiliser subsidies to begin with, to be given to Organic agricultural inputs and these should be procured from women’s collectives. The same should be done in the case of seed production, procurement and supply.
70% all investments in agriculture (assets, inputs, energy, irrigation, credit) under various schemes of the Agriculture Ministry must be targeted to women farmers given that 70% of labour input into farming is from/by women.
Separate budget provision and targets at (Central and State) for capacity building and input support for women farmers. Prioritise small and marginal women farmers, landless women farmers, SC/ST/differently abled and other marginalized women.
Family benefit scheme should include the category of women farmers especially in the case of families where a farm suicide has taken place.
Accidental death and injury in agriculture related activities to be insured, decision to be taken by women farmers’ collectives along with PRIs.
Public healthcare services should be strengthened, so that households don’t reel under the burden of ill health and privatized unaffordable healthcare.
II. DEMANDS RELATED TO WOMEN'S LAND RIGHTS
a. Demands related to Enhancing Women’s Rights to Public Land
Gender-Disaggregated Data Base: All State Governments must initiate efforts to develop and maintain a gender disaggregated data base consisting of extent of land holdings (both public/assigned lands and private lands) by women across various castes, communities etc. This initiative must include recording women’s names in all relevant land records from the village level upwards such as in the cultivation records or Pahani along with their spouse’s name (where relevant), in the combined land revenue records (jamabandi records) as well as verifying Women’s rights in all cases of inheritance, whenever land titles are issued under the RoR Act etc. This exercise must be taken up and completed within a time-bound manner of 2 years and continuously updated. There is a need for advocacy with the Central Government (DoLR) to issue specific directions and clear guidelines to all State Governments to take up this exercise. Also, advocacy with State Governments to issue relevant Government orders to give effect to this exercise.
Prioritizing Landless Women in Public Land Distribution: All categories of landless single women, especially from SC, ST sections (including those from farm suicide affected households, liberated manual scavengers etc) must be enumerated and prioritised in various kinds of public land distribution initiatives of the State Governments. Enumeration of landless women must also be taken up in a time bound manner not exceeding 2 years and regularly updated.
Clear, Inalienable rights, including Succession Rights: Women beneficiaries or assignees in public land distribution programmes must be given clear, secure rights to lands assigned. In addition, there must be specific clauses in the title deed preventing alienation of the same lands assigned to these women for any other public purpose in future as well as succession rights which state that in the event of the women beneficiary’s death, the rights to the assigned land would be passed on to other eligible women in the household. Advocacy to get all State Governments to amend their relevant legislations related to public land in view of the above demands.
Land Purchase and Land Lease: All State Tenancy laws must be reviewed and suitably amended to allow leasing of all unused, potentially cultivable lands (endowment lands, ponds, water bodies, canal embankments, inland fisheries rights etc) to landless women’s groups while recognizing such groups (SHGs, JLG, cooperative, other collectives) as a valid category of landowners. The period of lease must be at least for a period of 10 years to begin with and to be revised for the same or longer period thereafter. All such landless women’s groups must be enumerated and given Loan Eligibility Cards (LEC) for accessing credit as well as other support systems to sustainably carry out farming activities. A similar group approach must be adopted in land purchase initiatives of the Governments in various States.
Support Systems for Cultivation: Following land distribution, women beneficiaries who are often first generation farmers from marginalized SC and ST sections must be supported (whether individually or in groups) to carry out farming in a sustainable manner through provision of subsidized inputs, credit facilities, technology, protective irrigation, post harvesting processes and support for marketing their produce. MGNREGS and other government programmes must to be aligned for development of public lands assigned or leased out to women. State Governments must issue clear and specific guidelines in the form of relevant GO/GR in this regard.
Recruitment and Training of Personnel: At least 50% women personnel should be inducted at all levels into the State revenue departments, including the cadre of existing or potential legal extension/outreach workers, while Gender sensitization programmes must be made mandatory for all these revenue officials.. Appropriate gender sensitization programmes must be designed and provided to revenue officials at all levels through collaboration with the National Rural Livelihood Mission, institutions like NALSAR, Judicial academy, as well as by drawing upon the expertise of relevant civil society organisations and NGOs etc.
Women Resource Cells: A single window system in the form of ‘Women Resource Cell’ should be created from the mandal/block level upwards in the revenue departments in all States that aims to address and resolve all land issues related to women in a time bound manner. The mandate of these resource cells must also include research, monitoring and evaluation in order to assess the progress of various interventions as well as to provide continuous feedback to address systemic and programmatic issues on a regular basis.
Legal Literacy and Awareness: All State Governments’ should take steps to spread legal literacy related to land issues amongst women, especially from Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other marginalised (as per recommendations of the Draft National Land Reforms Policy and Advisory issued by Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India) while ensuring that women benefit from targeted and accessible legal literacy campaigns and programmes to help them understand their rights to land and entitlements, and where to claim them (National Commission for Women’s Expert Committee on Gender and Land rights). Governments must also aim at Legal simplification and standardization of legal literacy campaigns targeting the poor, especially women (as per suggestions of the Report of the Commission of Legal Empowerment of the Poor).
Unused land available with government, Railways, irrigation department, canals highway department to be allotted to women farmer collectives for agriculture development and livelihood promotion.
Convert cultivable fallows into food production farms including millets, under women farmer leadership to produce millets, pulses, other food crops and fodder.
b. Demands Related to Private land ownership
Need for legal provisioning
Land and Property Succession Acts for women should be gender just for all women irrespective of caste, creed, community and status.
As a policy, automatically include names of married women at the time of marriage, into the land title of husband as joint owners, except in the case of matrilineal communities.
The provision should be such that in the case of a married woman, after a husband’s death, his name should be struck from the land records and the
Gram Panchayat should be responsible to see that wife’s name automatically replaces the husband’s name.
In Succession Acts, the provision should be such that upon the death of the husband, the land and property gets registered in the name of the wife.
At the time of her death, the land and property is divided equally amongst the sons and daughters. If she remarries, at the time of remarriage, the land and property are divided equally amongst the children and she remains the owner of an equal share of the divided land.
Create barriers to daughters / sisters / widows releasing their title deeds: Make procedural Changes and Guidelines which must be enforced so that they do not give away their rights to the father’s / brother’s / husband’s land due to social pressure. Any/all of the following provisions, must be written into laws and/or rules:
When a daughter inherits land, any application for giving away this right should be considered only after one year of such application for gift transfer and after both the brother and sister have had a counselling session with the at the Taluka level, with a trained counsellor.
In case the brother wishes to own land before one year, he has to purchase this land at market rate from the sister and deposit money in her account, before any transfer can be made.
He can enter into a registered lease deed for a stipulated period after appropriate payments are made and recorded.
A widow’s land can’t directly be transferred by force or will to others till she is alive, and any such transfer of widow’s land should require Collector’s permission.
Demands related to Court Matters
When a matter with respect to land and property is sub-judice, the court should reserve its right to permit the concerned victim woman to exercise her right and use the disputed land/property to earn her livelihood till the final disposal of the suit.
Fast track all cases of women’s land ownership disputes within a time period of 3 months.
When a single woman files a title suit for possession over land and property, the act/provision should be such that:
Such cases should be decided in the fast track courts.
The incurred cost/expenses and court fee should be reduced to a minimum.
In the absence of the disputing opposite parties/respondents, the suit must be heard ex-parte and decided in favor of the single woman/appellant.
The final order be compiled and the possession and protection of the property be conferred upon her.
Have at least one-third women signing as Panchs’ as references /co-witnesses, required to completing the land documents. They could be heads of SHGs, formally elected women representatives or any woman representing committees promoted by Government at the village level.
Gender Audit of Existing Laws
All existing laws related to land assignment, land ceiling, tenancy etc. along with the large body of revenue statutes must be reviewed from a gender perspective and suitable amendments must be made in favour of women, wherever relevant.
Recording and Verifying Women’s land Rights: Women’s names must be recorded in all relevant land records from the village level upwards such as in cultivator column in the 1B register or Pahani along with their husbands name, in the land revenue records (jamabandi records) etc.
Women’s rights should be verified in all cases of inheritance, whenever land titles are issued under the Record of Rights Act (ROR).
Women having land rights should be issued pattadar passbooks, title deeds etc.
Issue Individual land titles (land records) for all women coparceners during the time of mutation by measuring and surveying the land.
Efforts must be directed on verifying and recording women’s land rights as part of the re-survey of lands in Telangana State, scheduled to be taken up by the Government from January 2015.
Schemes to motivate transfer of land in the name of women
Ask the States to create schemes, with inducements to encourage men to promote joint ownership with their wives, as well as transfer lands to women’s names
Have a policy of differential incentive for women land owners in agriculture/horticulture schemes to motivate transfer of land to women in the family
Additional benefits to Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) of exclusively women members (Tax reduction/subsidy/exemption in registration fees, ex current Chief Minister of Gujarat announces special benefit to women dairy farmers)
Under Present Program of SFAC (Small Farmers’ Agri-Business Consortiums), Equity Grants are proposed for all the eligible FPOs. In this situation special leverage should be given to women FPOs.
Waive stamp duty for purchase of land, or transfer of property, exclusively in the name of women to motivate men to transfer / purchase land in the name of women.
Adivasi Women and Other Women forest dwellers: Rights on Forests & Entitlements for forest-based livelihoods
Adivasi identity is closely linked to forests. Forest Dependent communities rely on forests to meet their subsistence and survival needs. Forests play an important role in ensuring food sovereignty and providing a dignified livelihood to forest dwellers. They provide food which helps forest dwellers tide over droughts. Women from these communities play an important role in nurturing and sustaining their land, water and forest resources. Therefore, it’s important to recognize their contribution and secure their rights over natural resources.
Forest Rights Act seeks to redress historical injustice done to forest dependent communities and provides an opportunity to help secure rights of forest dwellers. The implementation of Forest Rights Act should be undertaken in conjunction with Panchayat extension to Scheduled areas which focuses on self-governance by tribal communities. In forest areas not covered by FRA, the rights of communities especially women to use and sustain these resources should be recognized and safeguarded.
Demands related to Forest Rights Act
Relevant government departments should issue suitable directions to facilitate implementation of Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) in states.
Tribal development department should be strengthened to support the local communities in claiming their rights over community forests, and provide help to single women and women headed families in getting titles over their individual land.
Ownership of forest, land and other resources for single women and for women headed families should be recognized as a priority under FRA and cleared in a time bound manner. Such land must be developed with support of MGNREGA and ecological farming must be promoted in convergence with horticulture and agriculture department. In Orissa, the land recognition under FRA and MO JAMI Mo GHARA DIHA must be in the name of women instead of her husband/spouse.
Women’s participation should be ensured in the Forest Rights Committee and Forest Management Committees. Women elected representatives should be involved in enhancing women’s participation in villages where Community Forest Rights (CFR) titles have been awarded.
Government should develop aManagement Information Systems (MIS) like the one for MGNREGS to track the status of implementation of FRA. The MIS should contain gender disaggregated data.
Funds should be allocated under MGNREGA to Gram Sabhas to allow them to formulate and implement forest management plans under women’s leadership.
The criteria of 75 years residence for other forest dwellers to claim individual rights under FRA should be reviewed.
Denial of rights of other forest dwellers under recently issued guidelines by MoEF must be stopped. They have to be given ownership rights over the forest land.
Gram Sabha Consent must be mandatory to take up any projects which effect village forests’.
Demands related to Other Forest Livelihoods
Women’s everyday survival and livelihood rights related to water, fodder, fuel wood and collection of uncultivated foods, other forest produce etc must be prioritized and determined separately as a part of the larger community rights to forest spaces.
Monopolies on nationalized Non Timber Forest Produce (NTFPs) should be removed. Government regulations creating barriers in transportation of NTFPs should be withdrawn. The government should promote forest based industry, including the provision of skill building and capital input support in which single women, dalit women, women from particularly vulnerable tribal groups (most resource poor women) should be given a license to collect and market NTFPs. They should be professionally supported to make these enterprises successful.
Government should ensure Minimum Support Price (MSP)and active market intervention mechanisms so that prices do not fall below the threshold of the MSP. Certain NTFPs which are key to securing women’s livelihoods should be covered under innovative insurance products (like crop insurance).
The existing cooperative law should be amended to eliminate government control in cooperatives. Suitable amendments should be made to increase women membership in cooperatives.
Women forest workers should get minimum wages and access to social security entitlement. Gram Sabha should be given the power to ensure that women forest workers get minimum wages.
Government should promote ecological farming in tribal and other ecologically fragile areas. There is need to recognize the interdependent relationship between forest and farms. The role of forests in supporting farming and the contribution of farming in maintaining forest ecosystem should be recognized and enhanced.
Customary arrangements which empower women to manage common property resources should be protected.
Women farmers (also men) living close to forests should be compensated for the crop damage caused by wildlife.
Women groups from forest dependent communities should be given usufruct rights over forest not covered under FRA.
Only local and indigenous tree species should be planted in forest areas. The species to be planted should be selected in consultation with women.
Pollution from mines in forest areas has an adverse impact on health, environment and livelihoods of forest dependent communities. This should be stopped.
Demands related to Prevention of Displacement
Women in the forest areas are most affected due to forcible displacement in the name of development. Consequent to such displacement, women face loss of livelihood and become increasingly vulnerable to ill health, trafficking and loose educational opportunities. Forcible displacement should be stopped in order to protect the dignity of women.
An urgent survey is required to assess the ground situation related to displacement due to conflict situation across the country. There is a real danger of Fifth Schedule areas becoming general areas due to large scale displacement of adivasis for various reasons. Active resettlement efforts should be taken up to ensure that entire communities and women feel safe in coming back to their habitations. Efforts must be made to restore livelihoods. Further those areas which should have been rightly declared as Fifth Schedule areas with long pending struggles being waged for the same, should be declared so.
Specific guidelines should be formulated to ensure that women farmers consent is taken separately as in cases of land acquisition. Further women’s concerns and needs must be separately recognized in compensation as well as R and R processes.
In cases where communities agree to displacement, the resettlement and rehabilitation process should ensure that the entire community is rehabilitated in one location and that the social fabric and livelihoods of the community are not destroyed.
Special efforts must be made towards restoring lands belonging to women as part of the larger struggle to restore lands illegally alienated from tribals to non tribals. A Special Commission must be set up for speedy clearance of the above cases in time bound manner.
Resettlement of all the tribal and forest dependent communities displaced by development projects in the last 50 years should be completed.
Peace and Removal of conflict situation
Militarization by the State and non-state actors should be addressed immediately, and peace restored/conflicts resolved so that women’s mobility and access to livelihood resources like forest and land is not curtailed.
Regarding Women Agricultural Labour
Equal and living wages (incl. basic lifestyle expenses) have to be laid down and ensured for women agriculture laborers by recognizing them as skilled workers.
Protective labour laws should be implemented, including for immigrant labourers and inter-state migrant labourers. There should be universalization of maternity benefits and other social security support.
All labour-displacing technologies (heavy machines, herbicides etc.) should be minimized and stopped from being promoted in any way, while drudgery reducing technologies and mechanisms like tool banks and custom hiring centres should be set up.
Demands of Livestock Rearers
Women play a critical role in livestock rearing. Landless and small and marginal land holder women are dependent on livestock as a major source of livelihood. 70-80% of day to day work in dairying, sheep and goat rearing and back yard poultry is carried out by women, in backyard poultry it is almost 100% carried out women only.
Women who are targeted as beneficiaries of loans for dairy animals, sheep and goat and poultry through government schemes should be given the choice of buying breeds suitable to their resources and climatic conditions. Women should not be pressurized to buy unsuitable cattle. The pricing of milk should be remunerative covering the cost of milk production and a percentage of profit.
Backyard poultry rearing by women must be encouraged and supported instead of granting all the subsidies to commercial poultry farms. Necessary budgets to be allotted for this.
Women livestock rearers’ cooperatives to be promoted and all necessary support systems to be extended to them.
Grazing lands under occupation must be surveyed and handed over to the panchayats so that women dependent on livestock rearing can benefit.
Livestock development policy and schemes should be gender sensitive, information to be provide to women livestock rearers.
Demands related to Fisherwomen:
Fisherwomen should be given lease rights on at least 50% ponds, water bodies and inland fisheries with collective control on resources. Fisherwomen to have equal membership at all levels including governance bodies in fisher cooperatives.
Customary rights to grounds for drying fish that fisherwomen have, have to be respected and upheld/protected.
Fisher women should have their right to access fish in the harbours for sale.
Fisher women should have a right to use public transport to reach the markets.
Fisherwomen should have facilities for storage of goods at harbours and markets.
Cultural taboos on women’s use of fishing boats and other equipment should be addressed – systematic skill building of fisherwomen to engage in activities like fishing (fish harvesting) should be invested upon. Any skill testing criteria for allocating of lease rights on water bodies which inadvertently keep out women should be removed.
All agricultural laborers should be recognized as skilled workers and paid accordingly.
Integrate sustainable agriculture in educational syllabi in schools and colleges.
Women’s struggles for equality and gender justice should be de-criminalised.
[i] Aruna Kanchi (2010). Women Workers in Agriculture: Expanding responsibilities and shrinking opportunities. ILO.