India: Women farmers persevere

Women Farmers' Campaign in Uttar Pradesh

Women cultivators and agriculture laborers perform about 70% of all the agriculture activities – yet their valuable contribution is ignored and they are not acknowledged as farmers.

A study conducted on the status of women farmers in Uttar Pradesh shows that only 6% of women own land, less than 1% have participated in government training programs, 4% have access to institutional credit and only 8% have control over agricultural income.

NGOs working with small and marginal farmers in Uttar Pradesh got together to launch the Aaroh campaign in 71 districts across the state. The campaign supported by Oxfam is being led by Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group in collaboration with four local NGOs, Pani Sansthan, Vinoba Seva Ashram, Samarpan Jan Kalyan Samiti and Disha Samajik Sansthan.

The main aim of the campaign is to help women gain recognition as farmers so that they own agricultural land and access institutional credit, new technologies and government programs. Three years of intensive community mobilization is yielding results: some women are gaining ownership of agricultural land in the different districts and 8000 husbands have shown their willingness in writing for joint land titling.

Suresho from Saharanpur is now a proud owner of 1 hectare of agricultural land. "After getting associated with the Aaroh campaign I became aware of the importance of land rights," she says. "I raised this issue at home and after a long struggle my father-in-law gave me 6 bighas of agricultural land. I applied for a Kisan Credit Card but there too I faced a lot of challenges. The bank officials demanded that I bring my husband along.

"I replied, you never called me when my husband was getting his Kisan Credit Card, why do you want him present now? After many days of running around I got my card and now I am getting a loan from the bank for agricultural operations. I have learnt that nothing is impossible if you persevere."

Read more

Read the report: Halving Hunger: Still possible?

Why we are working on gender justice

Oxfam's Agriculture campaign

Story originally published by Oxfam India.