Irene Leonardelli (WEGO PhD fellow at IHE Delft Institute for Water Education) and Arianna Tozzi (PhD fellow at the University of Manchester) conduct research on agrarian transformations and water governance in Maharashtra, India. In this episode, they share some insights into the role of women during the farmers’ protests that started in October 2020. Farmers, and particularly small-holder farmers across gender, class, caste and age, raised their voice against three farm laws that would deregulate the agriculture sector, making them more vulnerable to big agri-businesses. Irene and Arianna share what they know about the protests and the requests of women farmers specifically, as they closely work with the local NGO SOPPECOM (WEGO partner institution) and the local network called MAKAAM, a nationwide informal forum to secure due recognition and rights of women farmers in India.
In fact, in rural areas of India, 7 out of 10 women work in the agricultural sector as farmers or paid workers, often in very precarious conditions. Women farmers suffer particularly from the agricultural crisis that has been characterising rural India for more than 30 years Single, widowed, unmarried, separated women are particularly marginalised -institutionally and socially- as Brahminical, patriarchal social structures profoundly shape India’s land and water governance at different levels.
Women farmers protesting against these laws (in Delhi but also in many other cities across India) argued that these laws would have further aggravated the current gender inequality in the agricultural sector. Hence MAKAAM is supporting the participation of women farmers in the protests, nationally and locally. In particular, MAKAAM has worked to raise awareness among women in remote areas or with limited access to information channels – to ensure that they are informed about what is happening and the consequences of the proposed laws on their livelihoods.
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Radio Iafue has granted permission to publish the videos on WEGO’s website.