Women, men working in sync to strengthen fight against agri laws: Women farmers at Kisan Sansad

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 26-07-2021 17:19 IST | Created: 26-07-2021 17:19 IST
Women, men working in sync to strengthen fight against agri laws: Women farmers at Kisan Sansad
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Gender lines blurred and traditional roles reversed ever so often as men and women joined hands to share responsibilities in the farm, at home and at protest sites to keep up the prolonged fight against three agri laws, women farmers said here on Monday.

Gathered for an all-woman Kisan Sansad (farmers' parliament), they demanded the repeal of the Essential Services Commodities Amendment Act, and stressed the seven-month agitation at multiple sites on Delhi's borders could be sustained because men and women -- whether husbands and wives or fathers and daughters -- were completely in sync.

Whether it was cooking at home to feed the children, ploughing the fields in the sun or relentlessly protesting for months, both men and women farmers, since November last year, have defied conventional gender roles to do it all, the women farmers, who travelled to Delhi from different states, said.

Farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pardesh, are demanding that the legislations be repealed and have been protesting against the laws at Delhi border points of Ghazipur, Singhu and Tikri.

''Women are doing men's work and men are doing what women used to do. So what?'' Kulwinder Kaur from Punjab's Tarn Taran district said at the Kisan Sansad, which is being held at Jantar Mantar near Parliament where the Monsoon Session is underway ''Women are no longer the same. Kalpana Chawla went to space, we have only come to Delhi. If women can become prime ministers, why can’t we fight our own battle,'' said Kaur, who was among the 200 women who participated in the farmers’ parliament, which began on July 22.

Kaur said that she along with several other women from her area have been protesting at the Singhu border for the last seven months, while their husbands and brothers, and brothers-in-law have been taking care of the household and the fields.

''I have been at Singhu with several other women from Tarn Taran for all these months to show that this is not just men’s protest. Farmers are not just men. Women work on fields too…we are farmers too, she said.

“And, while I am here, my husband is taking care of the kitchen and cooking,” Kaur said.

Every day 200 farmers are participating in the Kisan Sansad, which is a part of their strategy to draw the government’s as well as the opposition’s attention to the issues that have been plaguing the farming community.

According to Harinder Bindu, the farmers, while embarking on this journey, knew that their struggle was going to be a long one, and had prepared themselves for whatever might come.

“We knew that the protest was going to continue for a long time, and we knew we wouldn't be able to sustain it alone,'' she said.

''Towards the beginning of the protest…in December last year, when men from most households had to be at the protest sites, women back home learnt how to drive tractors so that they could plough the fields, something that men used to do,” the farmer leader from Bhatinda in Punjab said.

She added that similarly, as the protest continued, there were weeks and months during which women in several households were camping at Delhi’s borders, and men were helping out back home.

“When women come to the protest, men help out with the household chores. It is this cooperation, and collaboration among everybody that has strengthened the movement,” Bindu said.

While both men and women work the fields, the roles have traditionally been gender specific.

The ploughing is largely taken care of by the men, explained farmer leader Kiran Malik, and activities like cutting and trimming grass to feed cattle, irrigating and spraying insecticides in the field, making dung cakes for manure, among others fall into the women’s share of responsibilities.

“It is strange that the image of a farmer is by default a man, but it is the women who end up doing most of the farm work. Men have traditionally done the heavy lifting tasks, and then they are done. But since this protest began, the way of doing things has completely changed.

“Now everything is done keeping in mind that it should help the movement in some way or the other,” Malik, who hails from Hisar in Haryana, said.

She added that while her husband and other men in the family have been regularly traveling to Tikri, the women in her family have taken over the responsibilities in the fields completely, thanks to all the help that they receive from their neighbours.

“Every single farmer’s objective today is to fuel this movement, and all our actions are directed towards that one cause, and neighbours in our area have all been cooperating and helping out each other extensively,” Malik said.

Farmers have been protesting against the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. They claim that the laws will do away with the minimum support price system, leaving them at the mercy of the big corporations.

Over 10 rounds of talks with the government, which has been projecting the laws as major agricultural reforms, have failed to break the deadlock between the two parties.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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