According to journalist-cum-agriculture expert P Sainath, a significant number of women farmer suicides are excluded from the data due to one simple fact – women aren’t considered as farmers they are pushed in the column of housewives. In his speech at the XVI National Conference of Indian Association for Women’s Studies (IAWS), he also said that climate change is specifically going to affect the women more.

Key Takeaways:

  • Women farmers are often considered as widows of male farmers and hence not given the title of a farmer. ‘Widow’ of male farmers becomes their main role, despite the fact that even before their husband’s death, they did 60 percent of the work on the farm. 
  • Even in the NCRB data, the number of suicides committed by women farmers is the only area which shows zero incidences in many places.
  • According to P Sainath, we do not have women farmer suicides because we do not consider them farmers in the first hand. They are pushed in the column of housewives.

The agrarian crisis not only affects the male farmers but has a double effect on the women farmers. Not only on the farm but even when it comes to domestic needs, it is women who suffer ultimately.

The Lack Of Identity Of Women As Farmers

Tens of thousands of women farmers get excluded from the data everywhere and this is because we don’t consider them as farmers. Kota Neelima, author, and researcher who specializes in rural distress says, ” There is a misconception that the farmer is always male in India. Women do not own land and, therefore, are not recognized as farmers by the government. In reality, women work in agricultural fields every hour of every day of their life. But even woman farmer suicides are rarely considered as ‘farmer suicides’. This is mainly because the government endorses this bias in data about women farmers. The National Crimes Records Bureau categorizes suicides as per ‘farmer’, ‘cultivator’ and ‘agricultural labour’, and in all cases, lack of identity of women as farmers restricts the truth about their tragic deaths.”

Also Read: Women’s Unpaid Work Must Be Part Of GDP Calculations

How Does Agrarian Crisis Affect Women?

The agrarian crisis not only affects the male farmers but has a double effect on the women farmers. Not only on the farm but even when it comes to domestic needs, it is women who suffer ultimately. “All distress, whether rural or urban, affects women worse than men. Agricultural distress has a ground-level impact on food and nutrition of women, education opportunities for girls, health and sanitation of households, and other such factors. For example, the worst-affected during drought are women, who must not only deal with irrigation for farmlands but also get drinking water for their households. Women farmers’ failing health is a testament to their lifelong struggles and social neglect,” adds Neelima.

“Women farmers’ failing health is a testament to their lifelong struggles and social neglect.”

The Unpaid Work Done By Women On Farm

“My research in different states of India shows that rural women work up to 17-18 hours a day – of which, about half is spent in unpaid work. The socio-cultural structures force women to take up various unpaid work – domestic work, health care work, household farming duties, and working of family farmlands. Such work is often seen as the ‘responsibility’ of the women, and, therefore, they are never paid. Along with disparity in wages – widely practised in farm labour – the unpaid work done by women is a serious form of exploitation. At present, there is a denial by governments and society of the exploitation of women’s unpaid or underpaid work. For any justice to happen, the first step is the acceptance that women have a right over their work and their time, and must be compensated fairly,” adds Neelima.

Picture Credit- OxFam Blogs

Also Read: In Rural Manipur, Women Feel The Heat Of Climate Change

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