Women’s Earth Alliance

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GREEN Foundation is working in coordination with Women's Earth Alliance (WEA) to remove the gender inequity that exists in Indian agriculture through a project which aims to 'recognize the significant role played by women…and impart to women the knowledge and skills present within them to make agriculture viable and provide a platform to voice their concerns and assert their rights'.

WEA partners with community-based organizations globally to uplift local solutions to issues of water, food, land, and climate change by providing women with trainings and resources.

Begun in May of 2012, the intensive program will impact 40 beneficiaries from the Ramanagara and Chitradurga Districts of Karnataka, in a 4-phase structure, lasting 18 months. Through training sessions that focus on areas of water, soil and seed security, imparting technical knowledge of good sustainable agricultural practices and good farm management, we aim to build the capacity and leadership skills of women farmers to become strong, independent leaders of their community. Our holistic approach to women's empowerment in agriculture also aims to familiarize them on the concept of democracy, laws and governance relevant to them. The culmination of these efforts will be the community-based projects that interested women farmers will develop and establish as per their own personal vision. We will guide and support their vision through a seed grant and strong follow-up process.

Plight of women in Indian agriculture

Gender inequities have long existed in the Indian agrarian world. Though women form 43% of the agricultural labor force of developing countries, and contribute considerably to their families' livelihoods, they have little power in the decision making processes that concern their households. Closing the gender gap in agricultural inputs alone could lift an estimated 100 to 150 million people out of the clutches of hunger1.

Many studies have shown that improving women's direct access to financial resources leads to higher investments in human capital in the form of children's health, nutrition and education. – FAO report.

 

Yet societal and cultural restrictions limit their less access to resources that could increase their farm productivity and economic returns. The stark disparities of this gender bias mean that, when compared to men, women possess far less land and livestock holdings, some of the most basic necessities of agricultural endeavors. In fact, over 85% of rural women in India are farmers, yet they own less than 5% of the land2. Even when they do have control over their land and environmental resources however, women are further restricted by reduced access to services essential for good agricultural productivity.

Credit and savings facilities, for example, are gender biased, often because women have far less access to their families' fixed assets to meet loan requirements. This leaves them with reduced access to formal credit and without a means to meet cultivation costs or household expenses during times of need. Though Self Help Groups and micro-credit facilities have, to a large extent, narrowed this gender gap, our experience shows that women still have little say in how that money is spent and utilized for the benefit of their families.

In India the disparity in education levels among men and women is further exacerbated by cultural norms that severely restrict women's exposure levels to communities outside their own and reduce their knowledge of new farming methodologies. This isolation makes them more dependent on their male counterparts and excludes them from making informed decisions regarding farm management.

An empowered women capable of efficiently managing her family's farm, establishing good market linkages and then securing the best prices for her farm produce, would significantly strengthen the livelihood, food and economic security of her family. And with close to 70% of employed women in South Asia working in agriculture, removing the gender gap in the agrarian sector would mean a victory for working women as a whole.

 


1 Women in Agriculture: Closing the Gender Gap for Development, The State of Food and Agriculture, 2011, FAO.
2 http://www.womensearthalliance.org

© GREEN Foundation 2009