“We work, so you get to eat,” said Krishnabai Karle, a farmer from Khed tahsil of Pune district. It was meant to be a stinging reminder to the government. Krishnabai is one of innumerable farmers demanding the unconditional withdrawal of the three new farm laws passed by the centre in September this year. She spoke at a meeting on December 11 in Pune, in support of the ongoing farmers’ protests in the country.
Farmers, farm labourers and activists from across the district – all women – had gathered in Pune city to highlight the impact of the new legislation on farmers and especially on women in agriculture.
Although women contribute significantly to agriculture in India – at least 65.1 per cent of women workers work in agriculture, either as cultivators or agricultural labourers (Census 2011) – they aren’t regarded as farmers and are often denied ownership of their family land. The farmers at the Pune meeting said that the union government must recognise women as farmers rather than impose laws that further threaten their livelihood. “Women not only work but they work longer hours than men,” said Asha Aatole, a farmer from Daund tahsil.
The December 11 meeting – held on the 16th day of the nationwide farmers’ protests – came together as 'Kisan Baug', a forum launched on December 8 to demand repeal of the new laws. The meeting was organised by the Stree Mukti Aandolan Sampark Samiti, a 41-year-old collective of women’s organisations in Maharashtra.
Expressing their solidarity with the protests, the farmers also reiterated their long-pending demands such as a lack of access to credit and marketing facilities.
In a list of demands announced at the meeting, they said that the defamation of farmers by calling them ‘anti-nationals’ must stop. They also demanded that the government implement the recommendations of the National Commission on Farmers (or the Swaminathan Commission) of a minimum support price (MSP) for crops and decentralised purchase facilities.