Despite women’s contribution to agriculture, the labour is seldom recognised. And that, when farming for them comes together with the task of taking care of the family – cleaning, cooking, raising children, and other daily chores.
Thus, this International Women’s Day, protesting farmers have a reason to celebrate their role.
Since Saturday evening, large numbers of women have been reaching Delhi’s Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri borders to assume responsibility of all management activities on Monday, March 8.
From addressing gatherings to a short march at Singhu border to driving tractors as a symbol of protest, the women were out there to mark “Mahila Kisan Divas”.
Thousands of women farmers held protest marches and delivered speeches at the Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur protest sites at Delhi's borders on International Women's Day.
Students, activists, and trade unions members also joined them. Farmer unions have claimed the presence of 40,000 women from states adjoining the national capital.
Fifty-year-old Antbir Kaur from Udham Singh Nagar district of Uttarakhand reached Ghazipur late Sunday night. She began her journey with few other women. On way, several others joined the group under the aegis of Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM).
“A large part of work in agriculture is done by women. Some seen, some unseen. Yet when you talk of farmers, it’s seen as a man’s job,” said activist Mariam Dhawale.
“We demand recognition of women's rights as farmers and have urged the government to adopt the draft national policy for women in agriculture that had been created in 2009,” added the general secretary of All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA).
“The stage is being managed by women, the speakers are all women and the issues that are being discussed are of both farming and women farmers more specifically,” farmer leader Kavitha Kuruganti said on Monday.
“The discourse of the debate is focusing on women farmers. The debate is also on the contribution of women in this movement,” said Kuruganti, who is also a member of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha.
Till now, women have been actively participating in the sit-in protests at Delhi’s borders. The numbers have been less since they come and go in batches to attend to work back home.
Poor sanitation facilities at the protest sites too forced many to return.
“Women have been participating in large numbers. They are part of our struggle. Today, they will take the lead,” said Harjinder Singh an SKM volunteer at Singhu border.
Since November 26, 2020, farmers have been sitting in protest against the Centre’s three contentious laws.
Antbir Kaur and her companions intend to return home by Tuesday. For them, work at home and farming have to be balanced with the agitation.
However, they will return with a mission. They will be part of the farmers’ leadership in their respective districts.
From Tuesday, these women will visit villages in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab and garner support for the agitation.