Rural Women- Do you understand their contribution in the world? - Seeker's Thoughts

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Rural Women- Do you understand their contribution in the world?

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Introduction: - October 15 the United Nations Commemorates the International Day of Rural Women. 
International day of rural women, UN women calls upon the international community to work with rural women and girls everywhere and to invest in the sustainable infrastructure, services and social protection that can revolutionize their livelihoods, well-being and resilience. 

This year the theme is ‘sustainable infrastructure, services and social protection for gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.’ 

Importance of international day of rural women  
 It is important for two things - 
1 – Sustainable infrastructure, services and social protection are central to progress 
2- Measures to improve their delivery can bring both immediate relief and lifelong benefits.
Problems farmer women face 
There are several problems which farmer women in rural areas face, that not only create barriers to education and employment but more unpaid domestic work, higher risk of maternal mortality and violence, and psychosocial stress --- among other things. 
Women in labour force – Rural women make up 43% of the agriculture labour force in developing countries. In work that is time- and labour – intensive, informal and poorly paid, with little social protection or income security. 
Child labour prevalent in rural areas, with girls forming a significant part of the agriculture workforce. 
Collection of safe drinking water – Women and girls are responsible for water collection in 80% of households without access to safe drinking water. This work is arduous and will only become harder as water shortage increase. The journey to collect water also poses safety risks. 
Health risks – without adequate water and sanitation facilities, women and girls are exposed to illness, violence and other risks to their safety. These defects also hamper their ability to get a good education, earn an income and move around freely. 
In countries that rely heavily on fuels like coal, wood, manure or crop waste for cooking, women account for 6 out of every 10 premature deaths through household air pollution. 

Let's understand India's women farmer condition 
In 2016, the ministry of Agriculture and farmers welfare decided to take the lead in celebrating the event called (Rashtriya Mahila kisan diwas) as National Women’s Farmer’s Day, with the aim of recognizing the multidimensional role of women at every stage in agriculture – from sowing to planting, drainage, irrigation, fertilizer, plant protection, harvesting, weeding and storage. 
Ministry has proposed a long discussion the challenges that women farmers faces in crop cultivation, animal husbandry, dairying and in fisheries sectors. With the aim to work towards an action plan using better access to credit, skill development and entrepreneurial opportunities.
Current Affairs of October 2018- Click here to buy now
Data vs reality  
According to Oxfam India report, women are responsible for about 60-80% of food and 90% of dairy production. The work by women farmers, in crop cultivation, livestock management or at home, often goes unnoticed. Several flagship programmes by government impart them training poultry, apiculture and rural handicrafts, they have got less importance in such schemes.  
Whereas the agriculture census in 2010-11 shows that out of an estimated 118.7 million cultivators, 30.3% were females. Similarly, out of an estimated 144.3 million agriculture labourers, 42.6% were females.  
In terms of ownership of operational holdings, the latest agriculture census of 2015-16 shows. Out of total 146 million operational holdings, the percentage share of female operational holder is 13.87% (20.25 million), a nearly one percentage increase over five year. On the other hand, feminization of agriculture is taking place at a fast pace, the government has yet to boost up to address the challenges that women farmers and labourer's face. 

Most serious challenge is the less power of women in terms of claiming ownership of the land they have been cultivating. Most of the time women farmers stay deprived for the property right, the reason behind women are considered weak in patriarchal mind set of the society.  a lack of ownership of land does not allow women farmers to approach banks for loans as bank usually consider land as security. 
A majority of farmers fall under the small and marginal category 🙁 including women farmers. A declining number of land holding may act as a discourage due to lower net returns earned and technology adoption.  

A way forward 
Around the world, rural women have mobilized to secure water for irrigation and household use, and renewable energy for lighting their homes and powering small business. But small-scale solution is not enough. The possibility of collective farming can be encouraged to make women self-reliant. Moreover government flagship schemes such as the national food security mission, sub-mission on seed and planting material and the rashtriya krishi vikas yojana must include women-centric strategies and dedicated expenditure. Once women farmers are listed as primary earners and owners of land assets, acceptance will ensue and their activities will expand to acquiring loans, deciding the crops to be grown using appropriate technology and machines, and disposing of produce to village trader or in wholesale markets, thus elevating their place as real and visible farmers. Krishi vigyan kendras in every district can be assigned an additional task to educate and train women farmers about innovative technology along with extension services. 
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