MAKAAM, or Mahila Kisan Adhikaar Manch (Forum For Women Farmers' Rights) is 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 of India, to secure due recognition
and rights of women farmers in India.
The Mission of MAKAAM is to visibilise women farmers – especially smallholder marginalized women, with a development vision led by social justice, plurality of knowledge systems and sustainability driven by ecological approaches – and to create and secure rights over productive livelihood resources (land in particular) as well as entitlements over a variety of support systems, with equal participation of these women in decision-making in various institutions starting family upwards, to ensure empowered, self-reliant, sustainable women’s livelihoods.
Despite women being involved in 60-75% of all farming related work, they remain invisible as farmers, and are not recognized and supported as farmers. Women’s landholdings account for just around 12% of all operational holdings, comprising only about 10% of the total operated area in the country.
Consider this: In most regions of India, across different crops cultivated, it is mostly women who put in at least 60-75% of work involved in various farming operations. It is they who are toiling day in and day out in the fields, carefully nurturing the seeds that they have sown so that we all get the food that we eat and survive on. Most of the work that they do is in fact laden with drudgery and long hours of labour. However, when we talk about farmers, it is mostly men who are described as the Anna Daatas. Women’s presence as farmers is unrecognized and invisible. Often, women involved in farming are not identifying themselves as farmers either! They also, like the rest of the world, look at the men in the family who own the land as the Farmer.
Consider this too: An overwhelming majority of Indian women, whose work data is captured in official statistics report that they are involved in the agricultural sector, either as ‘cultivators’ (‘self-employed’ in agriculture) or ‘agricultural laborers’ (‘casual labor’ in agriculture). In fact, despite the so-called economic growth that this country witnessed, opportunities for women in other sectors has not seen any significant opening and most women workers in the country continue to be associated with agriculture. Despite this, they are not seen as FARMERS!
While they work the hardest in this arena, lack of recognition as farmers – primarily because of land ownership resting in the hands of men in our patriarchal society – means that they are being denied some basic rights that are due to them, including rights over the family’s property. The agricultural research system, training and extension systems, marketing systems, risk insurance systems, credit and other support systems systematically ignore women. While it is already an unjust structure out there, recent trends of “feminization” and “masculinization” of agriculture are making things much more harder for women. Feminization is where managing the enterprise of farming is becoming the sole responsibility of women when men migrate out in search of opportunities elsewhere. This, the woman is having to do, without any land title in her name which also means denial of some support services from the government (since most such support is linked to land ownership). Masculinization is where commercial, corporate-driven farming results in women getting sidelined from decision-making related to agriculture, given the asymmetrical access to markets that the man and woman in the family have. In this intensive-agriculture, market-driven paradigm, it is the man who is connected to both input and output markets and gets to have a greater say.
Meanwhile, evidence exists to show that all things kept equal between men and women farmers in terms of support systems, women’s farming is in fact more productive than men’s! Women farmers need to have equality in this domain not just for instrumental reasons around poverty, food security etc., but because these are their rights!
It is in this context that MAKAAM or Mahila Kisan AdhikaAr Manch was created in April 2014 as a nation-wide advocacy platform to uphold women farmers’ rights and ensure that their identity as farmers is ensured, and that their rights over resources realized (this includes land as well as other natural resources), even as governments are influenced to make sure that various services and schemes accrue to women also in their own right as farmers.
When we talk about Women Farmers, this term encompasses cultivators, agricultural workers (where, apart from lack of land rights, differential wage rates between men and women is a major problem), fisher women, women dependent on forests, salt pan workers etc. This movement will get strengthened only if more and more women and men step forward to assert the rights of women farmers. You can join this movement that seeks to secure the rights of women farmers by writing to us.
Let us recognize the contribution of women to our food & farming systems.
Let us ensure that women farmers are not invisible anymore !!
Let us make sure that women farmers get their due rights !!!
Join MAHILA KISAN ADHIKAAR MANCH - MAKAAM today.
Come forward to create a MAHILA KISHAN ADHIKAR MANCH at your level, in your own village or tehsil or district, along with other friends in this movement.