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Concerns of Rural Women

Locked in a Crisis

​This article is based on the documentation of the issues faced by women farmers across 14 districts of the Vidarbha and Marathwada regions of Maharashtra. More than ever, the present pandemic has exposed the critical weakness of public systems, since consistent expenditure cuts in the social sector have led to poor infrastructure in public health, the public distribution system, water and sanitation, and shelter homes for violence survivors, among various other facilities. This, along with the depletion of scarce natural resources, has added to the burden of women’s unpaid work.

The COVID-19 pandemic context foregrounds the question of women’s unpaid labour more than ever. With depleted and scarce public ­resources like food and healthcare, the demand on women’s labour is increasing, forcing them to provide for care on the one hand and generate incomes to compensate for the losses incurred during the lockdown on the other. If these women are not supported in the immediate and ­medium term, the burden on their health and well-being would ­become unbearable.

Among the large sections of informal sector working women who face this situation, women farmers too are included. They comprise cultivators, wage labourers, the landless, and those engaged in poultry, livestock, forests, fisheries, etc. They ­belong to various socio-economic and religious groups. Most among them have no assets and little voice and recognition as workers or as farmers in their own right. Women farmers’ voices have been less documented in terms of how the lockdown constraints at home and outside have affected them, and what they expect from governments in this regard.

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Updated On : 8th Jun, 2020

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