Women’s contributions to agri sector, national statistics not captured full scope of work
According to Sabina Dewan, President and Executive Director of JustJobs Network, women’s work and contributions to the economy, particularly in agriculture, are still invisible in data.
Dewan stated that 60% of women work in agriculture during a panel discussion on the ‘Impact of Climate Change on Agricultural Livelihoods of Women’ hosted by Arthan and JustJobs Network on a virtual platform. However, national statistics frequently fail to capture the full scope of work.
According to Neeraja Kudrimoti, State Programme Officer, Aspirational Districts Programme (collaboration with the Chhattisgarh government), livelihood, climate, and agriculture are all interconnected.
According to Kudrimoti, 76% of people get their nutrients from plants, and women produce 80% of the food. Women are still not regarded as cultivators. Women play various roles, and they are viewed as community managers and reproductive assets by the larger society. This makes them even more vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
Kudrimoti explained that in the event of crop failure or a fuel shortage, the entire burden falls on the women of the household to fetch fodder, fuelwood, and so on. Their work is made more difficult by a lack of technology.
According to Zulfiquar Haider, Chief Strategy and Programme Officer (Azim Premji Foundation), women do 65-70% of the work. At the policy level, there is a significant issue, and there is a need to enable a policy that improves the situation.
‘We will have to find a mechanism to shift the population away from agriculture and toward other professions and entrepreneurship in the local ecosystem, which is something we are currently overlooking.’ We require a large number of people who understand hydrology and biodiversity. There are several ‘Adivasi’ communities that have a lot of indigenous knowledge, and there is a need to somehow recognise and put this knowledge to better use,’ he said.
According to Jaskiran Warrik, Project Lead, Food Innovation Hub, Food Systems Initiative (World Economic Forum), research agendas that include women’s opinions on what burdens them should be created, and work should be done to make these agendas convenient, adding, ‘An ecosystem needs to be created in which women have the power to make decisions, and this needs to ramp up and accelerate now.’
The discussion also shed light on the significant gender disparity that exists among agricultural casual workers. It also stated that women’s wages are at least 30% lower than men’s. The panellists also discussed how women bear the brunt of the effects of Covid as well as climate change.