Farmers' protest: Women's organisations write to PM

Women's organisations come out in support of farmers' protest, says agri laws will have adverse impact on women

The organisations said women, even though not recognised as farmers, are equally engaged in agricultural operations

The organisations pointed out that the ongoing protest against three controversial farm sector laws have a huge participation of women farmers. Credit: PTI/ Representative image

Six women's organisations have shot off an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi claiming that his government's policies on the agriculture sector will have an "adverse" impact on women in rural sector.

The letter also condemned the "repression" of protesting farmers by tear-gassing and water cannoning them in the bitter cold and accused the BJP-led Centre and state governments in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana of unleashing "unprecedented barbarism" on the peaceful farmers wanting to reach Delhi for the protest.

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The letter was signed by All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA), National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA), Pragatisheel Mahila Sanghathan (PMS), All India Mahila Sanskritik Sanghatan (AIMSS) and All India Agragami Mahila Samiti (AIAMS).

The organisations said women, even though not recognised as farmers, are equally engaged in agricultural operations and a large number of them still remain as “invisible contributors”. The role of women in the agricultural sector cannot be ignored as they comprise 33% of the agriculture labour force and 48% of the self-employed farmers, they said.

"Farmers are reeling from persistent agrarian distress and the economic impact resulting from the unplanned and draconian measures taken by your government to deal with the pandemic. This has put agriculture dependent families under severe indebtedness and resulted in increased farmer suicides," the letter said.

"Women farmers from the suicide affected families are in a totally vulnerable situation. Women are not the holders of land titles. Hence they receive no help from the governments to cope with the double calamity of indebtedness and suicide that hits them. The escalating price rise of essential commodities, unemployment and hunger is having serious consequences on the lives of women and vulnerable families," it said.

The organisations pointed out that the ongoing protest against three controversial farm sector laws have a huge participation of women farmers. They said these laws will farmers and their families at the mercy of agri-businesses.

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"These laws will lead to the destitution of women farmers with no protection from the unsparing loot by the corporate lobby. These acts will lead to decreasing decentralised procurement by government and dismantling of the public distribution system...It is unfortunate that your government has chosen to disregard these just demands and push the farmers into further misery by passing the anti-farmer laws," it said.

The organisations demanded stopping the repression of farmer’s "legitimate and peaceful protests" immediately, withdrawal of all cases imposed on the struggling farmers and leaders of the farmers’ organisations and repealing the three laws enacted during the pandemic.

They also demanded that the government should fix and guarantee a minimum support price for all agricultural produce and ensure decentralised procurement by the government. It should not encourage contract farming, they added.