Gender Policies and the Rights of Farm Women -Prof.Swaminathan

I am glad the Kerala Government has announced a new gender policy with focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment. More than 50% of women are involved in activities connected with crop and animal husbandry, fisheries, forestry, agro-processing and agribusiness. I had introduced in Rajya Sabha three years ago a Private Members’ Bill for the empowerment of farm women in the areas of land and water rights, access to technology, credit and insurance and ability to market their produce at a remunerative price. The bill could not be taken up for discussion during my tenure in the Rajya Sabha. It is however time that both the State and Central governments enact legislation for the empowerment of farm women. An important cause for the present agrarian crisis is the neglect and disempowerment of women in agriculture. I hope the Kerala initiative will stimulate more extensive political action in empowering women with right to land which is a prerequisite to right to credit and other inputs.