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Impact of Globalization on Rural and Tribal Women workers in

Agricultural Sector in India1

By - Ruby Ojha2 &

Rekha Talmaki3
1. Introduction

Agriculture is currently undergoing a transformation as a result of globalization.

Referring to developments in the rural economy leading to impoverishment, the National

Commission on Farmers (NCF) observed that ‘Agriculture and the rural economy bore

the brunt of neo-liberal policies of removal of all quantitative restrictions on imports,

steep lowering of import duties on agricultural produce, slashing of import subsidies,

collapse of institutional credit, near absence of public investment, reduction in rural

development expenditures, weakening of the public distribution system and decline in

allocations for agricultural research and extension (National Commission on Farmers,

2006).’ The worst hit amongst the impoverished are the agricultural workers and the

rural poor. There has been a consistent decline in the growth of agricultural sector since

1990. It was 4 % per annum in 1980s and now it has declined to less than 2%. Elasticity

of employment also has declined in this sector and during 1993-94 to 1999-2000 jobs in

the farm sector have grew only at 0.03%. Because of these low returns in agriculture,

Paper to be presented in National Seminar on Gender & Development in World of Work and Health - with Focus on Women
in the Agrarian Sector, to be held on 19-20 November, 2010 at Bhimtal (Uttrakhand), Organised by: Women Work & Health
Initiative (WWHI), New Delhi In collaboration with Kumaon University (Dept. of Bio-Technology) & SNDT Women’s University,
Church gate, Mumbai.

Associate Professor, Department of Economics, PGSR, SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai

Senior faculty in SNDT College of Arts & SCB College of Commerce & Economics for Women, Mumbai affiliated to SNDT
Women’s University, Mumbai
more men are moving out of agriculture putting the future of this sector more than ever

in the hands of women.

2. Impact on women workers in agriculture

Agriculture is the main employer of women informal workers. 75% of the total female

workforce and 85% of rural women are employed in agriculture as wage workers or

workers on own/contracted household farms. But, even with increasing feminization of

agriculture, few women have direct access to agricultural land affecting their ability to

optimize agricultural productivity. With increasing feminization of agriculture,

casualization of workforce also has increased which has deteriorated the quality of

employment. After globalization modern day agriculture has become technology

sensitive but the poor illiterate farm women have very little or no access to scientific

advancement and technology to achieve higher productivity, higher profits and more

income for their family.

Women are the backbone of agricultural workforce all over the world. They do the most

tedious and back-breaking tasks in agriculture. Despite the fact that women contribute

more labour to agriculture than men, they get fewer wages than men and land remains

almost solely in male hands. Although women constitute two-thirds of the agriculture

work force, they own less than one-tenth of the agricultural lands. Therefore, very few

government schemes include landless women as beneficiaries.

A study (Alka Parikh, Sarthi Acharya, Maitreyi, Krishnaraj, 2004) in Maharashtra’s

agriculture, has the proposition of women working as agricultural labourers. The data

suggest that more than half of women factors were engaged in other capacity of

labourers in agriculture in both 1991 and 2001. In contrast, this proportion is less by

more than 10 percent in the case of male workers; they are principally cultivators (i.e.

own account workers). In the context of livelihood, to work as an agricultural labourer

fetches the least income, as is repeatedly seen from NSS data. Thus women do seem

to be engaged in less remunerative activities compared to men.

An attempt was made in the above mentioned study to predict possible impacts of

current and proposed government policies. It was found that most policies described in

the plans and budgets of agriculture and allied sectors do not give positive boosts to

women workers (creating special opportunities for women, designing gender sensitive

policies that ensure equitable infra-household distribution of benefits etc). Thus, surely,

women are being left behind in these policies. The authors found that women are

completely absent from the framework of policy makers.

Even in Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS) wage rates are discriminating, very

meager and are calculated on piece rate basis. For example, the wage for digging a one

cubic meter hole is only around Rs.19/-. A couple generally does this work. The man

digs and woman takes the mud and throws it elsewhere. But only one person is paid for

this job. The man gets paid; the women’s labour is free. This practice needs to be

immediately rectified (Dhawale, Mariam, 2006).

Even otherwise, unequal wages for men and women in agriculture is a regular feature

everywhere. As the farmers cannot reduce the cost of other inputs, they are resorting to

reducing the cost of labour component in cultivation. They are pressurizing the

agricultural workers to work more. They are employing women and children for lesser

wages, and going in for more and more mechanization.

3. Case of the Tribal Women

The study by Nilabja Ghosh (2006) based on nation-wide macro data on Scheduled

Tribe people of India, finds tribal women in India lagging in most indicators of

development. Unfortunately, like the average rural women in India and more so, they

are engaged intensely in primary activities and almost entirely informality and often as

unpaid family workers and worse still, as casual wage laborers who lack any security of

earning. Tribal women known for their deep association with the forests are an

economically active lot but they suffer disproportionately more from illiteracy, poverty

and social abuse.

Most of the adivasis have been tenant farmers. With passing of tenancy laws, lands

were handed over to tillers. These tribals thus owned massive lands and lived

peacefully in harmony with nature. Now, land ceiling laws are being relaxed in tribal

areas and hundreds of acres of land are either being leased out or sold to indigenous

and foreign companies. The classic example of this is the Coca Cola factory in Wada

Tehsil of Maharashtra. Land at through away prices, almost free supply of unlimited

water, control over natural resources and huge tax concessions have been gifted to this

factory. Since this land, as in respect of many cases, was in the name of men it was

sold without consulting the women. Thus, thousands of tribal families are being

displaced and the small amounts received by them for their land have been used up,

leaving them with nothing in hand. In these circumstances, women are forced to take
loan to even buy food grains, pulses oil etc. which pushes them into the dragnet of the

money lenders and further destitution. Similarly, the overflowing water of Vaitarna River

near Wada Tehsil, which was earlier used by people from nearby villages, has now

been given to the Coca Cola company at a rate of three paisa per liter. It then sells one

liter of bottled Kinsley water at 12 to 15 rupees. Men usually migrate to find work in brick

kilns and women are left behind to protect themselves and look after the aged and the

children. The sad unspoken misery of women’s exploitation in these insecure conditions

is generally invisible (Dhawale, Mariam, 2006).

As per 2001 census, Adivasis in Maharashtra comprise 8.86 per cent of the state’s

population. The population of Adivasi has increased in Maharashtra by 17.20 per cent

from 1991-2001 with the state ranking third in the country so far as Adivasi population.

According to the 44th round of the National Sample Survey, 14.8 per cent of the Adivasi

in Maharashtra are landless. 43 per cent Adivasi families have land ranging from 0/1 to

4.04 hectares. The average land holding in Adivasi family is 0.98 hectare and most of

this land is dry land of extremely poor quality. The survey also shows that 46 per cent

of rural Adivasi families are self employed of whom 44 percent are engaged as wage

labour. According to the Schedule Areas and scheduled Tribes Commission, the

number of Adivasis below the poverty line in Maharashtra is a massive 90.89 per cent,

the highest proportion of 97.25 per cent being a Gadchiroli district in Vidarbha (Dhawale,

2006). In Thane district most of the adivasis are either marginal or small peasants or

agricultural labourers. Women form a majority of work force. 90 per cent of women are

engaged in agriculture. Additionally, women fetch water and wood for fuel, cook meals,

look after children and manage the household.

The case of total Scheduled Tribe population in Andhra Pradesh also needs special

mention. The size of this population is 4.2 million. Officially, 33 Scheduled Tribe

communities mainly spread over nine districts. The present economy of tribals in

Andhra Pradesh is a consumption economy with the main occupations being settled

agriculture, Podu (shifting) cultivation and collection of non timber forest produce which

totally comprise 88% of their occupation status. As against the general literacy rate of

44.09, literacy among the tribals it is 17.16 and among tribal women is 8.68 percent

(Bhanumathi, K., 2001-02).

Tribal women who are actively involved in collection and sale of forest produce face

severe exploitation from traders and do not get a fair price for their labour. In Gonduru

village of Vishakhapathanam district, the women were trained for processing and

packaging of tamarind. However, they are prohibited from selling this value-added

product in the open market where they receive a better price, because of the monopoly

restriction. Fanciful government schemes in the name of women’s development do not

give powers and rights over resources to poor tribal women even where it concerns

their basic sustenance.

The joint Forest Management Programme in Andhra Pradesh, launched in 1993, has

been implemented in most of the tribal villages, particularly in Vishakhapatnam,

Srikakutam, Vizianagaram and Adilabad districts. With the aid of development

incentives like construction of roads, check-dams, etc. the tribals are being drawn into

forming Vana Samrakshana Samithis, which is a prerequisite for giving up their Podu

cultivation and taking up plantations suggested by the forest department. As a result of

this, the tribals are not able to cultivate various food crops, particularly the diverse
traditional varieties of crops, as most of the land has been converted into plantations

field. Now for their food consumption they are depending on markets. As they do not

have enough purchasing power they are forced to consume less. Tribal women now

get even less food to consume because they have to purchase it from the market for

which they have no money. This is adversely affecting their working capacity and health

(Bhanumathi, K., 2001-02).

An adivasi woman’s relationship with her land is integral to her very role within the

family and ultimately her very being and existence. An adivasi woman is an

exceptionally skilled farmer and nurtures the land, as the source for the crops to feed

the family and or medicinal plants to heal her family as a vital part of nurturing her

family. Adivasi women are traditionally revered for the knowledge and skills, with which

they tend to the land and resources around them in the breeding seeds, harvesting

crops and indigenous development of agricultural techniques. This knowledge is now

being appropriated and exploited by outsiders as part of the globalization and

consumerism of the market forces.

The World Bank funded projects in the tribal areas are putting pressure for new forms of

economy in these areas and are pushing for constitutional amendments to bring in

corporatized agriculture, large holdings, hybridization and extension of agricultural loans

so that farmers can grow cash crops and high capital intensive crops. In Visakhapatnam

district, the tribals have rich traditional systems of agriculture, horticulture and vegetable

cultivation which reflect the diversity of crops, the consumption pattern of the economy

and the optimal usage of land and resources with minimum capital and external support.

Now women’s knowledge of traditional systems of agriculture and forestry is being

downsized by the new brigade of external technical consultants forcing their expertise of

forestry on to them. In this district, the government has over a period, been trying to shift

the economy of the tribals into new forms of monocultures without forethought to the

hazards that they would be exposing the tribals, especially the women, who have an

important role in the traditional form of agriculture. One of the most fearsome aspects

of this new shift is that due to lack of any information or awareness regarding the skills

required, the seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, the cropping patterns and yields etc. the

tribals in this area will be devastated totally under the influence of macro market forces

on these crops.

Globalisation and liberalization have fostered in India growing inequity and

marginalization of the weak. The dalits, the backward classes and women entrenched

by poverty are up against the wall of new economic policies that have resulted in

growing underemployment and rising prices of basic goods(Kumar, Navleen, 2004).

Under the new economic policies of the state, revenues are to be earned from lucrative

sectors like sale of liquor. The ban that was imposed on sale and consumption of liquor

after strong protests from women across the state was lifted by the present government

as it could not overcome the state deficits without income from these important sources.

The heavy burden of debt accumulated by political decision-makers is inflicted on poor

women who have to work harder, not for a better nutrition and quality of life, but in order

to keep their men swaying in the liquor dens and the state out of troubled waters. The

state is directly responsible for such indirectly negative policies affecting women’s

health. Not only that, when tribal women in Palem village of Visakhapatnam district

refused to allow the liquor mafia to set up its outlets in the tribal villages, they were
brutally “punished” for daring to defy the local powers and excise authorities. Their

houses were demolished, they were dragged into illegal custody, tortured physically and

mentally, forced to drink the urine of the men. The police refused to even register the

case filed by these women. Legal suits filed against the excise authorities have led to

constant harassment on the women. This nature of brutality is encouraged by the state

so that women would rather face the hazards of alcoholism than the wrath of the

authorities (Bhanumathi, K., 2001-02).

All the natural resources in the forest (where unfortunately tribals also live) are under

serious threat of privatization in the state under the rationale that industry has the

capacity to invest whereas people and government do not have the resources to do so.

Hence, handing over of forests to mineral, paper, wood based industries would lead to

economic progress of the country as well as improve the incomes of forest dwellers. In

the year 2000 the state government passed a G.O. (No.112) to transfer forest lands to

industries like Reliance and ITC Bhadrachalam through the village institution of Vana

Samrakshana Samithis. Strong protests from the NGO’s and the opposition parties, who

highlighted the government’s back door approaches to privatization of forest resources,

led to hasty withdrawal of the proposals. (Bhanumathi, K., 2001-02)

Similarly, in Andhra Pradesh the mineral wealth found in the tribal areas was attempted

to be sold away to private mining industries either by illegally transferring tribal lands or

even worse, by removing the constitutional safeguards (Fifth Schedule of the

Constitution) to the tribal people. Mining is one of the important growth engines in the

new reforms package of the government and most of the minerals in Andhra Pradesh

are found in the tribal areas. With all the pretensions of bringing in prosperity to the
tribals, the state government passed a resolution to amend the state laws under the

Fifth Schedule of the Constitution where industries would not be hindered by legal


Moreover, the state government is going ahead with its liberalisation policies in these

remote tribal areas by inviting multinationals and Non Resident Indians for taking up

tourism, mining, film, agro-based and other industries in the name of tribal development.

What happens to the tribal women and their health is of no consequence to the

government. This is the gender justice and gender equality situation of Andhra Pradesh

under the Structural Adjustment Program in the post liberalized state.

4. Farmer’s Suicide

Agricultural growth has decelerated during the last decade, resulting in the decline in

real per capita incomes in rural India. As a result the nation was in 'an advanced stage

of crisis', the most extreme manifestation of which was the rise in suicide among

farmers. The crisis has been epitomized by farmers’ suicide, particularly in the Vidarbha

region of Maharashtra and also in Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, and other states. In these

states, a large number of farmers are driven to commit suicide where cash crops face

the vagaries of the market. The National Commission on Farmers, calling for a ‘Suicides

Census’, has estimated that the number of farmer suicides is 30,000 across six states

(National Commission on Farmers, 2006).

The Wayanad district of Kerala has attracted the nation’s attention due to the farmer’s suicide

on a large scale. According to media and the peasant organizations, 130 farmers and

agricultural workers had committed suicide in the year 2004 in this small district with a

population of about 8 lakh according to 2001 Census (George, Joes and Krishnaprasad, P.,

2006). These suicides, after globalization, were the result of mainly three reasons i) crash of the

prices of agricultural produce, ii) indebtedness, and iii) drought, disease, and depletion of water


A.V. Yadappanavar (2008) conducted a study in Punjab for calculating the suicide rate

among farmers. Wheat, paddy and cotton are the main crops of the district. Canals are

the main source of irrigation in the district, supplemented by the tube wells. There is a

widespread belief that there has been a spate of cultivator farmers’ suicide in Punjab.

The macro data show that the percentage share of cultivator farmers’ suicides to the

total suicide in the state between 1991- 97 is to the extent of 23 percent. In the same

study, socio-economic data of suicide victims show that majority of them were illiterate

and around 55 percent were in the age group of 31-40. Family in these cases seemed

to have ceased to serve as a forum for sharing of stress and anxieties. Agriculture was

their major source of income. 65 percent of the respondents in the study depended on

agriculture and 30 percent of them served as agricultural labour for their livelihood.

After the demise of their husbands, workload and responsibilities of women increased

tremendously. Daily expenditure was a major problem, and problems were aggravated

after the male member’s death. Arranging marriage of grown up daughters was an

additional problem. Usually the assets were in the names of male household members

and after their suicide non-transfer of assets was another area where women had to

suffer. A debt, which was the major reason for suicides, added to the financial crises of

the household. It was observed that none of the respondents had received any financial

assistance from government to clear all the debts.

5. Trafficking of women

Globalization is usually biased against unskilled workers. Rural women mostly engaged

in unskilled labour have to suffer because their unskilled work is invisible and

unprotected in the work ‘economy’. Their impoverished situation is making them more

vulnerable to a social evil like prostitution. In remote areas the literacy rate of women

belonging to Backward Classes and tribals is not even 4%. Thus it becomes easier for

the procurers and the middlemen to influence or coerce these women and girls into

prostitution. Globalization has also made inter-state and international trafficking of

women easier due to increased mobility on the one hand and increased vulnerability on

the other. Girls and young women living below the poverty line or belonging to the

Scheduled Castes or Schedules Tribes or Backward Class or illiterate unskilled workers

in rural areas are comparatively more vulnerable to this evil. Education and economic

independence of women can counter this vulnerability (Based on Surana, Pawan,2009).

6. Remedial Measures

Having identified the major issues like insecure profits, increasing cost of inputs,

outdated practices, increased competition, environmental degradation, decreasing

demand for labour, increasing labour supply etc., SEWA helped agriculture workers to

form their own local organizations as cooperatives in a regional federation. These

agriculture workers organizations aim to increase productivity, yield, bargaining power

and income through educating small and marginal farmers on technical skills, methods

of costing and pricing, and the implications and requirements of increasingly liberalized

trade, building linkages with technical research and marketing organizations, collectively

purchasing agriculture inputs at lower rates, initiating alternative income generation

activities such as agro-forestry, horticulture, vermi-culture and compost manufacturing.

Following success stories indicate that collectively even asset less women can do

wonders if they get some institutional support (This section is based on the reference -

Reema Nanavati, 2003)

a. Vanlaxmi Women Tree Growers Cooperative

Due to rapid industrialization and the absence of necessary backward-forward linkages

for inputs and marketing, the small and marginal farmers and agriculture workers in

Mehsana district of Gujrat were slowly losing most of their land and assets. In particular,

excessive irrigation from bore wells dramatically reduced the water table and rendered

the remaining water high in fluoride content. With irrigation becoming expensive and

without dependable rains, many small and marginal farmers were forced to either

migrate or take to casual labour. Women agriculture workers were even harder hit. They

could find no alternative work and often had to walk miles to collect the necessary

fodder and fuel.

SEWA organized the women agriculture workers into a cooperative. They demanded

and eventually received government revenue land. The struggle dragged on for two and

a half years, until finally, with SEWA’s continuous intervention, the revenue and

cooperative departments came to a mutually agreeable alternative: the landless

agriculture workers had to be registered as a tree growers’ cooperative rather than as

an agriculture workers’ cooperative. They formed a cooperative for growing trees on

government revenue wasteland and then only could the revenue wasteland be allotted.

Through the cooperative, women systematically planned to make optimum use of the

available land employing a multi-faceted approach. With partnering the local research

station of the Gujarat Agriculture University for technical assistance, they were able to

maximize production and income by using scientific agriculture practices, including

horticulture, agro-forestry, drip irrigation, compost pits and rainwater harvesting

techniques. They utilized low-cost methods of boosting productivity such as designing

cropping patterns to enrich the soil. In all activities the cooperative encouraged

participation of all village communities and women in their efforts.

Today, the Vanlaxmi cooperative stands as a model for the entire district demonstrating

how the landless poor can successfully implement collective agriculture. Women who

earned just Rs 15 as agricultural day labourers and were never engaged in matters of

yield, sale, expenditure or market, are now recognized as farmers. They meticulously

manage their land, tracking each and every cost. The cooperative has acquired

improved equipment such as a power tiller, thresher and a drip irrigation system. The

plan also ensures full employment for members and the land meets fodder and fuel

needs of the village. As a licensed and authorized seed distributor by the Gujarat State

Seed Corporation, the cooperative also provides timely and reasonably priced quality

seeds not only to its own village but the entire area.

Since the land was allotted on a 15 year lease, the women will have to continue their

battle to secure long term utilization that allows for long term planning and maximum

benefit through entering the renewal process.

b. Sabarkantha Women Farmer’s Association

Sabarkantha district of Gujrat is a semi-arid area heavily affected by soil erosion due to

extremely sandy soil. This has resulted in ravine formation and overall land degradation,

negatively affecting agriculture productivity and agriculture related employment.

SEWA organized the women agriculture workers/farmers into the Sabarkantha Women

Farmer’s Association. The association, with SEWA’s support, has initiated watershed

development techniques to check soil erosion. To supplement its activities, the

cooperative also provides full employment for displaced agriculture workers by

encouraging them to form tree-grower societies and start sapling nurseries.

In support of its economic interventions, the cooperative also organizes the women into

self help and savings and credit groups and provides the necessary training for skill and

leadership development, awareness generation and capacity building. Such local

organization capacity building efforts ensure the members’ self-reliance. Finally, the

cooperative has linked up with various government development and welfare schemes

to accelerate asset building for its members.

c. Sukhi Mahila SEWA Mandal

In 1991, the Sukhi dam submerged the land and villages of agriculture workers in the

tribal areas of Pavi Jetpur in Vadodara district of Gujarat. As compensation, they were

given land near the village resettlement sites. Whenever dams are constructed, working

families in different trades and occupations are displaced and need rehabilitation.

The challenges faced by women-headed agricultural households are particularly

complex. Therefore, they require more support and time to once again secure their
livelihoods. Traditionally, these women survive through a mix of collecting forest

produce, agriculture, dairying and/or poultry activities. When displaced, at best they

receive only land; resettlement schemes fail to take into account their multifaceted

survival strategy. Even the land itself is often less fertile, rocky, unleveled and far from

the forests on which they depend. The land is not ready for immediate cultivation, yet

women and their families have no other supplementary source of income.

SEWA organized the relocated workers into the Sukhi Mahila SEWA Mandal to initiate

economic rehabilitation. Under the leadership of the women agriculture workers, they

initiated land development and installed irrigation facilities. They also started alternative

income generation programmes for the suddenly unemployed, including sapling

nurseries, poultry units, animal husbandry, mushroom cultivation and social forestry


d. SEWA Gram Mahila Haat

In 1999, SEWA Gram Mahila Haat, a state-level apex marketing organization was

established with the help of Government of Gujrat’s Commissioner of Rural

Development to provide market, financial and technical assistance to small and

marginal farmers and agricultural labourers. It attempts to eliminate dependence on

middlemen and help members reach markets all over the country to sell their produce.

SEWA’s experience in organizing agriculture workers to build their own associations

underscores that different approaches and interventions must be adopted according to

context specific needs and issues. Also, a holistic and integrated approach to

agriculture development must incorporate technical training, introduction of appropriate

technology, and natural resource development through watershed planning.

In all of its activities, SEWA has found that sustainable development depends on

understanding the elements that fuel poverty and strategically working with women to

address these aspects of their vulnerability through asset building, capacity building,

organizing for collective strength and social protection. Action to strengthen the

economic security of agriculture workers and their families can be best charted through

this framework. The SEWA experience demonstrates that if technical training is

provided to poor farmers, in particular women, they implement this knowledge in their

own fields, harvest bigger yields, and reap higher incomes.

e. Strategies Used for Empowerment by NRCWA

The National Research Centre for Women in Agriculture (NRCWA) has been

functioning at Bhubaneshwar, Orissa, for developing women specific technologies

under different production systems. At the initial stage of the project a package of

instruction was provided regarding what rural women should do to endure health

security, food security, economic security and livelihood security. The ergonomic

management of drudgery undertaken by Family Resource Management component

aims at introducing women- friendly drudgery reducing technologies related to farm,

home and allied activities. The pathways have highlighted on empowerment of

knowledge, skill, decision making; economic and social empowerment. The data base

on indigenous knowledge has strongly suggested for empowering women with

knowledge on locally available plant sources for ensuring health security.

The components of AICRP on Home Science have moved towards empowerment of

rural women through their respective thrust of research. Mobilization of self help groups

(SHG) and creation of learning environment, the empowerment process through

educational interventions, transfer of technologies, the feasibility trials and the out

-reach programmes have contributed to significant gain in knowledge, adoption of

women-friendly technologies for improving work efficiency, acceptance of technology for

economic gain and improving various parameters of quality of life are the reflections of

women’s environment. Empirical evidences have revealed that women have moved

from beneficiaries to active partners in shaping empowerment. The information

strategies used by different components under AICRP on Home Science have

encouraged women to play key role in micro - level planning, designing community

infrastructure for information dissemination and mobilization of community resources -

both human and material to gain benefits from the project.

Land rights not only empower women economically but strengthen their ability to

challenge social and political inequalities. The Eleventh Plan promises to carry out a

range of initiatives to enhance women’s land access. It will ensure direct transfers to

them through land reforms, anti poverty programes, and resettlement schemes. It will

include individual or group titles to women in all government land transfers, credit

support to poor women to purchase or lease land, records and legal support for

women’s inheritance rights, incentives and subsidies on women owned land. The group

approach to women’s ownership of land and productive assets will be explored and

appropriate linkages will be made with the SHG movement. In case of displacement, a

gender sensitive rehabilitation policy that includes equitable allocation of land to women

will be devised. The Eleventh Plan will also ensure the right of poor, landless, and tribal

women over forest land, commons, and other resources (Approach Paper to 11th Plan).

7. Conclusions and Suggestions

Gender equality and empowerment is recognized globally as the key element for

progress. It is one of the eight millennium development goals agreed at the millennium

development goals agreed at the millennium summit in New York in 2001. Women are

important participants in most agricultural systems therefore, it would be imperative to

draw this neglected half into the mainstream and overcome gender discrimination in this

regard. Some suggestions identified for improving the plight of agricultural women

workers are as follows:

1. Adult education programme should be organized to promote functional literacy of

farm women.

2. Empowerment process of farm women can be accelerated by establishing self

help groups. Group action at farm women level by forming Self Held Groups will

enable them to overcome the common problems experienced by them.

3. Micro credit can accelerate the process of empowerment of women.

Strengthening of existing micro-credit mechanism and micro-finance institutions

is the emergent need to enhance the credit outreach to women farmers.

4. Introduction of women friendly and cost effective appropriate drudgery reducing

technologies for farm work are the need of hour so that they could contribute

more effectively to the production.

5. A number of legislative acts have been passed by the Government to promote

women in agriculture. (For example, Equal Remuneration Act has been passed

to provide for payment of equal wages to men and women for the same or similar

nature of work and also for the prevention of discrimination on the ground of sex

against women in the matter of employment. Maternity Benefit Act provides for

payment of maternity benefits to women employee. Kerala Agricultural Workers

Act confers the benefits of security of employment for agricultural workers for

both male and female. National Commission for Women was set up by an Act of

parliament in 1990 to safeguard the rights and legal entitlements of women. The

73rd and 74th Amendments (1993) to the constitution of India have provided for

reservation of seats in the local bodies of Panchayats and Municipalities for

women, laying a strong foundation for their participation in decision making.)

There is a need to make women aware of these acts so that they can feel


6. The Government must implement programs for sustainable livelihood and

poverty elimination in rural areas, so that the rural youth is not forced to migrate

to the seemingly greener pastures of urban, live there without their women folk

and thus further promote prostitution.

7. Multi-disciplinary reintegration programs like health care, counseling, education,

training & social integration must be seriously strengthened.

8. Education and economic independence of women will counter their vulnerability

and lead to the recognition and respect of women dignity as that of human being.

9. Lastly, that prostitution is an undesirable evil, not an inevitable one, its

elimination would require restructuring social setup, which would give greater

sexual freedom to men and women in which women’s identity is respected as a

human being.

In the Eleventh Plan, for the first time, women are recognized not just as equal citizens

but as agents of economic and social growth. The approach to gender equity is based

on the recognition that interventions in favour of women must be multi-pronged and they

must: (i) provide women with basic entitlements, (ii) address the reality of globalization

and its impact on women by prioritizing economic empowerment, (iii) ensure an

environment free from all forms of violence against women (VAW) – physical, economic,

social, psychological etc., (iv) ensure the participation and adequate representation of

women at the highest and adequate representation of women at the highest policy

levels, particularly in Parliament and State assemblies, and (v) strengthen existing

institutional mechanisms and create new ones for gender main-streaming and effective

policy implementation.

The challenge in the Eleventh Plan is also to improve the availability of agricultural

inputs, credit, marketing facilities, technology, and skill training for the increasing

number of women farmers. Resource pooling and group investment, financial and

infrastructural support will be provided. Women in agriculture will be on the top of the

Eleventh Plan agenda and a two pronged strategy will be adopted (i) ensuring effective

and independent land right for women, and (ii) strengthening women’s agricultural

capacities (Approach Paper to 11th Plan).

8. References

1. Alka Parikh, Sarthi Acharya, Maitreyi, Krishnaraj, (2004), Gender Budgeting

Analysis – A Study in Maharashtra Agriculture, Economic & Political weekly Oct.

30, 2004

2. Anderson, Evangeline and Rajkumar, (2004) Women “Missing” the World:

Globalisation through a gender lens, World Alliance of Reformed Churches,

Accra, 2004

3. Approach Paper to 11th Plan.

4. Bhanumathi, K., (2001-02) Impact of Globalization on Adivasi Women and

Children in Andhra Pradesh, Samata NGO.

5. Dhawale, Mariam, (2006) Globalisation Attacks Tribal Women of Thane, Social

Scientist, Vol. 34, No. 7-8, July-August 2006, pp. 62-69

6. George, Joes and Krishnaprasad, P. (2006), Agrarian Distress and Farmers’

Suicides in the Tribal District of Wayanad, Social Scientist, Vol. 34, No. 7-8, July-

August 2006

7. Ghosh, Nilabja, (2006), In the Search of a Canopy; Tribal Women’s Livelihood in

Forest Based Industries in Rural India, Economic Times, April 14, 2006

8. Kumar, Navleen, (2004), An Unfinished Task: Globalisation and the Tribal

People, Women Networking, 2004, Mumbai

9. Mollah, Hannan, (2002), Impact of Globalisation on Agricultural Workers,

People’s Democracy, Vol. XXVI, No. 44, Nov. 10, 2002

10. Reema Nanavati, (2003), Women Agriculture Workers, Seminar, Nov, 2003.

11. Serving Farmers and saving farming: A Draft National Policy for Farmers,

National Commission on Farmers, Ministry of Agriculture, GOI, New Delhi, April


12. Singh, Jaiver and J.V. Meenakshi, (2004) Understanding the Feminisation

Agricultural Labour, Proceedings of the Workshop on Women in Agriculture and

Rural Development, held on Nov. 9-10, 2000.

13. Surana, Pawan, (2009) Effect of Globalisation on Human Trafficking and Forced

Prostitution in India,

14. Tiwari, Poonam (2008), Agricultural sustainability through women empowerment,

published in - Women in media: Issues, Perspectives and solution, (Ed.) Dr.

Rameshwary Pandya, New century Publication, (2008) New Delhi, India, pp 73-

85. pp 225 – 234

15. Yadappanavar, A.V., (2008) Suicides by farmers in Punjab and strategies

adopted by the women, published in - Women in media: Issues, Perspectives

and solution, (Ed.) Dr. Rameshwary Pandya, New century Publication, (2008)

New Delhi, India, pp 73-85.