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Farmers' march in New Delhi: Ignored by govt and society, women cultivators demand respect and recognition

Brihaspati Tati, who hails from West Bengal's Sunderban region, comes from a Scheduled Caste. She faces numerous struggles: Being single, landless, and an agricultural labourer. Brihaspati, 50, has two young sons. She has come to the farmers' rally in Delhi to question the government about the state of West Bengal's numerous landless labourers who are demanding unemployment allowance. Brihaspati is accompanied by 12 other women from Sunderban.

The Centre, while considering farmers' struggles, tends to neglect the plight of women cultivators. In most states, when women farmers commit suicide, 'familial tensions' is often cited as the reason. Many women from Telangna at the rally say their husbands have committed suicide. They are demanding the right to be recognised as farmers by the government and society.

 Farmers march in New Delhi: Ignored by govt and society, women cultivators demand respect and recognition

Women cultivators often find themselves on the margins of society. Image courtesy: Hema Vaishnavi

Members of the Caring Citizens Collective, a women’s cooperative from Lingapally in Telangana's Siddipet district are also present. The collective — with a membership of 178 women — has been helping small-scale and marginalised women farmers. The cooperative has also been helping women who are part of the communities displaced by the Mallana Sagapr irrigation project.

“We have been helping women to train themselves and support each other in times of distress,” said Shweta, a worker at the collective. “We're here to fight for the rights of women, especially single women who have been displaced. Our social structure has been disrupted and we've been shortchanged by being forced to sell our lands at an unfair price.”

One hundred and ten farmers turned up from Telangana. Of these, 56 are women. Others come from Gujarat's Panchamahal district, respresenting the Mahila Kisan Adhikaar Manch (Forum For Women Farmers' Rights), a nationwide informal forum of more than 120 individuals and organisations of farming women, of women farmers' collectives, civil society organisations, researchers and activists, drawn from 24 states, working to secure rights of women farmers in India.

Ushaben Aravind from Panchamahal is marching with 22 other women from her village. She said, “Women work around the clock and we don’t get the respect we deserve from society. We often work more than the men do. Some of us don’t have the right to own land. We want to fight this discrimination.”

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Updated Date: Dec 02, 2018 18:55:59 IST

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