Role of farm women in Indian
MSc (Agri Extn) 1
“In order to awaken the people, it is the woman who have to
be awakened. Once she is on move, the family moves, the
village moves, the nation moves”
Pandit Jawaharalal Nehru
According to Swaminathan,
“Some historians believe that it was woman who first
domesticated crop plants and thereby initiated the art and
science of farming. While men went out hunting in search of
food, women started gathering seeds from the native flora and
began cultivating those of interest from the point of view of
food, feed, fodder, fibre and fuel.”
Objectives of the
To know the status of women
To assess the role of women in agriculture and allied activities
Status of women in
Women and Poverty
70 % of the 1.2 billion people living in poverty are women
Women as Workers
Women do more than
67% of the hours of work done in the world
Earn only 10% of the world’s income
And own only 1% of the world’s property
The value of unremunerated work was estimated at about $16
billion, from which $11 billion represents the invisible
contribution of women
Women are paid 30-40% less than men for comparable work
on an average.
60-80% of the food in most developing countries is produced
Women hold between 10-20% managerial and administrative
Women make up less than 5% of the world’s heads of state.
† Census 2001, women - 48.26 % of the total population
Among the total population
† literacy rate -54.16%
† Rural women literacy rate -31.6%
† Urban women literacy rate-54.01%
† Female share of non-agricultural wage employment is only 17%
† Participation of women in the workforce is only
13.9% in the urban sector and
Status of women in India
Women’s wage rates are, on an average
only 75 % of men’s wage rates
constitute only 25% of the family income
In no Indian State women and men earn equal wages in
only 9% of parliamentary seats
less than 4% seats in High Courts and Supreme Court
less than 3% administrators and managers are women.
Source: ESCAP ,2001
Literacy rates of male and female in
Distribution of women workers in India
Year Total Female
1951 173,543 45.3 31.3 23.3
1961 212,467 55.7 23.9 20.4
1971 263,900 29.6 50.5 19.90
1981 321.357 33.2 46.2 20.6
1991 402,813 34.5 43.6 21.9
2001 494 million 36.5 43.5 20.0
Source : Registrar General of India, New Delhi, 2001
Women supervising the agricultural
operations performed by the labourers
Source: Percentage of the respondents’ relationship to the farm work as per the research.
Women – Contribution and Status
Women contribute to two-thirds of the world’s work
hours, produce 50 per cent of the world’s food supplies
Women work in fields, take care of families and manage
Despite the services rendered by women in the family
and work place, they make up for nearly 70 per cent of
the world’s poor and more than 65 per cent of the
Share of Farm Women in Agricultural Operations
Activity Involvement (percentage )
Land preparation 32
Sowing and cleaning 80
Intercultural activities 86
Harvesting –reaping, winnowing,
drying, cleaning and storage
Time and Energy Distribution by Rural
Domestic activities 7.55 903 40.5
7.00 283 39.69
Sleep 6.50 283 12.76
Rest and recreation 2.15 155 6.97
Total 23.20 2255 100.0
Why women in agriculture?
In order to eradicating poverty
To ensure food security
To increase their stake in agriculture
To increase economic contribution
Ownership in land , livestock, etc.
Importance of women in agriculture
Woman is the moulder and builder of any nation’s destiny.
They play a significant role in any economy.
They are regarded as the backbone of the rural scene.
Most of the women perform various types of work for their
livelihood and agriculture is considered as the biggest
unorganized sector where large number of rural women take
Multi-Dimensional Role of Women
(i) Agriculture :Sowing,transplanting,weeding,irrigation fertilizer
application, plant protection, harvesting, winnowing, storing
(ii) Domestic: Cooking, child rearing, water collection, fuel wood
gathering, household maintenance.
(iii) Allied Activities: Cattle management, fodder collection
Women's participation in the labour force
Women's roles in farming systems
Women in biological diversity
Women in the cash crop sector
Women in the post-harvest sector
Employment and enterprises of women
Heading households and household production
Tasks of women in Agriculture
Problems in women participation are
1.Some of the farm women may inhibited to participate .
2.Most of the women were willing to take up jobs, though they
3.New jobs require a different kind of skills .
4.As wage-earning agriculture labourers, women suffer other
kind of disadvantages also.
5.While men attended farmer’s camps to learn about the use of
new implements, fertilizers, pesticide and crop rotation,etc.
6.Constraints on time and mobility by women’s dual domestic
and agricultural roles .
7.Inefficient transfer of agricultural knowledge from husband to
8.Lack of incentives to increase productivity .
Suggestions to over come the above problems
The women in rural area should be educated .
To promote rural development programmes .
A good and democratic leadership should be created at the
grass roots level.
Women’s clubs and other organizations should be set up in the
Several meetings and training of village women should be
The training should be able to create awareness, generate
interest, motivate learning, impart knowledge, change attitude
and generate skills.
Risks / work stress factors
Physical Stress / Risk of injury
Risk / Stress due to Vehicle / Machinery
Environmental Risks / Stress
Invisibility of Women’s Work
Non recognition of Women’s role in decision making.
Historical and Complex Causes reinforced by social, cultural,
political and religious practices and beliefs.
No recognition of women in institutional work.
Correct the statistical invisibility of women’s work through
preparation of an account that should include in detail the work
that women undertake.
Policies and funds allocation need to take cognizance of this,
and address women’s needs.
Adequate attention is given to the educational process through
which women engage with the institutions in an informed and
Agricultural education be made gender sensitive and research,
development, extension and services be engendered to give due
recognition to the multiple role played by women
Burden of family planning
Unsafe electrical wiring and appliances
Exposure to toxic pesticides
Data gathered thus far point out that women with at least a
secondary level education eventually give birth to one third to one
half as many children as women with no formal education
Health & safety issues of women in Agriculture
Evolution of Policy
Gender mainstreaming started from the VI Five Year Plan
when ‘opportunities for independent employment and income’
for women was recognized as a necessary condition for raising
social status of women.
Five Year Plan Shift from Welfare to Developmental Issues
Five Year Plan Raising Economic and Social Status of Women
Five Year Plan Increased Emphasis on Economic Activities
Five Year Plan From Development to Empowerment
Five Year Plan From Women Alone to Gender Mainstreaming
Five Year plan Propose to Move Towards a Holistic Approach
Women contribution to
Responsible for household food and nutrition security.
90% of the hoeing and weeding in food production.
80% of the work on food storage and transport.
More than 90% of post harvest management including food
processing, providing water and energy.
More than 60% of harvesting and marketing.