Gender Issues in Agricultural and Rural Employment in Tiruchirappalli DistrictIntroduction:Women plays an vital contributions to the rural economy of all developing country regions as farmers, labourers and entrepreneurs. Women have less access than men to agricultural assets, inputs and services and to rural employment opportunities. It is believed that women’s increased participation in the workforce will boost the country’s GDP and also, empower them to be independent, and take charge of their future. In rural India while men are moving towards the cities to earn for their families, agriculture and farming automatically becomes a women’s responsibility in absence of other male members.
This tradition has slowly helped the women in learning the farming techniques, getting involved in financial decisions and also, thinking about other ways to increase the production and profit. It is also helping in breaking the stereotypes that restricted women from the household chores. However the irony is while women have started working in the fields, they have to put in the effort of taking care of the families too.
As per Census 2011, out of total female main workers, 55 per cent were agricultural labourers and 24 per cent were cultivators. However, only 12.8 per cent of the operational holdings were owned by women, which reflect the gender disparity in ownership of landholdings in agriculture. Mainly rural women are engaged in agricultural activities in three different ways depending on the socio-economic status of their family and regional factors. They work as paid labourers, Cultivator doing labour on their own land, Managers of certain aspects of agricultural production by way of labour supervision and the participation in post harvest operations.The types of agricultural activities taken up by women include the following things like sowing, nursery management, transplanting,weeding, irrigation,fertilizer application, plant protection, harvesting, winnowing, storing.Objectives:To study the role of women in agricultural and allied activities in Trichy DistictTo find out the various problems faced by women workers in agricultural sectorTo study the gender differences in agricultural sector.Role of women in agricultural and allied activities:The agriculture sector is underperforming in many developing countries, in part because women do not have equal access to the resources and opportunities they need to be more productive.The gender gap imposes real costs on society in terms of lost agricultural output, food security and economic growth. Promoting gender equality is not only good for women; it is also good for agricultural development.Multi-Dimensional Role of Women:Agricultural Activities:Sowing, transplanting, weeding, irrigation, fertilizer application, plant protection, harvesting, winnowing, storing etc.Domestic Activities:Cooking, child rearing, water collection, fuel wood gathering, household maintenance etc.Allied Activities:Cattle management, fodder collection, milking etc.Despite women’s extensive and varied participation in agriculture, they continue to have less access than do men to modern agricultural inputs. As a result, their farm work is labour intensive and yields meager economic returns.The various reports shows that different roles played by women in rural areas of developing countries and provides solid empirical evidence on the gender gaps they face in agriculture and rural employment. Compared with their male counterparts, women women operate smaller farms, on average only half to two-thirds as large; women keep fewer livestock, typically of smaller breeds, and earn less from the livestock they do own; women have a greater overall workload that includes a heavy burden of low-productivity activities like fetching water and firewood; women have less education and less access to agricultural information and extension services; women use less credit and other financial services; women are much less likely to purchase inputs such as fertilizers, improved seeds and mechanical equipment; women if employed, are more likely to be in part-time, seasonal and low-paying jobs; and women receive lower wages for the same work, even when they have the same experience and qualifications.Employment in agricultural sector:Employment refers to the population involved in productive activity. It determine the quantity and quality of the output produced by the people in agricultural area. Tiruchirappalli District 2001 2011Total Population 24,18,366 27,22,290Total Workers 10,64,521 12,13,979Main Worker 9,27,788 10,82,329Marginal Workers 1,36,733 1,31,650Non Workers 1,35,3845 15,08,311Work Participation:Work Participation Rate is a measure of the active portion of an economy’s labour force. It refers to number of people who are willing to work or employed in the country. The Work Participation Rate is an important tool to analyse the employment and unemployment situation in an economy. The work particpation rate was increased in Andanallur, Thiruvermbur and Tiruchirappalli Corporation because of urbanisation. The total work participation rate is decreased in Lalgudi, Manachanallur, Manapparai, Marungapuri, T.Pet, Uppliapuram and Viyampatti has decreased.Work Participation Rate:Rural/Urban 2001 2011RuralMale 59.7 60.00Female 45.3 43.8 Persons 52.5 51.9UrbanMale 53.8 56.7Female 15.2 17.8 Persons 34.5 37.1 TotalMale 56.9 58.4Female 31.1 31.0 Persons 44.0 44.6Source: Census 2001 and 2011The Work Participation Rate in Tiruchirapalli district is 44.6 percent in 2011. The urban work participation rate has increased from 34.5 percent to 37.1 percent where as the rural population is decreased from 52.5 percentage in 2001 to 51.9 percentage in 2011. The various reasons for low WPR in Tiruchirapalli is follow as Higher income for urban male workers may push the females out of the market. The urban female may find difficult to get job in near places Jobs available for them is far way from their home and work is unfamiliar to them. The worker relationship is different in urban areas than in the rural areas In rural areas the workers are familiar to them The y get jobs near their home but in urban areas female workers find it very difficult to work.Sectoral Composition of workers and output:The structure of workforce is the percentage share of different kinds of workers. The are influenced by the occupational background of the blocks. In Marungapuri, Pullambadi and T.Pet a large number of people are working as a cultivator. In urban areas like Thiruverambur and Tiruchirappalli Corporation women are working in different works .Women are mostly landless and landless population is more than land owing population in Trichy district.The number of male and female cultivator is more in Marungapuri and Thuraiyar blocks. The number of female agricultural labour is more than male agricultural labourers in all the blocks except in three blocks namely Thiruverumbur, Thottiyam and Thiruchirappalli Corporation.The number of male and female agricultural labour are high in Thottiyam Block compare to other blocks in trichy district. The Vaiyampatti has lowest number of male workers and Uppiliyapuram has lowest number of female workers in Tiruchirappalli.The primary sector contributes lowest growth rate. The percentage share of both primary and secondary shares has decreased in the last two years because of slight increase in the share of service sector..Comparative Status of Women in Trichy District in the year 2011:Female Population (No.) 13,70,006Percentage in Total Population 50.33Sex-Ratio 1,013Percentage of women workers in Agricultural Sector 53.33Percentage of Women in Non- Agricultural Sector 46.67Tiruchirappalli district is developing district with delta irrigation, gives more employment in women in agricultural sector.It divided entire workforce in agricultural and non agricultural. The percentage of women in agriculture and non agriculture was higher than state levels. Apart from that women are engaged in various other categories like allied activities, animal husbandry, fisheries etc. When women are employed in paid employment, it will help women to participate in decision making process there by empowering women.As farmers and agricultural labourers, women contribute significantly to food security of the country, but they are paid 22 per cent less than their male counterparts, shows a report on agricultural statistics released by the Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare. While wages of both male and female farmers increased in the last decade (2006-17), the wage disparity continues and the women farmers continue to earn less.The wage gap was the highest during 2012-14 when women farmers received nearly 27 per cent less than the men during the period.Even though there has been a marginal reduction in wage gap (by 4.43 per cent) between 2012-13 and 2014-15, nothing much seems to have changed, shows the data on All India Annual Average Daily wage rate covering 20 major states (see table below). In fact, the wage disparity once again figured prominently during 2015-16 when women farmers received 25.37 per cent less than the male farmers.All India Annual Average Daily Wage Rate:Crop Year Average wages (in Rupees) Male Female2010-11 149 1152011-12 183 1342012-13 214 1582013-14 229 1782014-15 268 2002015-16 281 218Source: Directorate of Economics and StatisticsWomen involved in important but less-skilled jobIn 2011, women formed 75 per cent of the agricultural sector workforce. In rural India, around 80 per cent of women depended on agriculture for their livelihood. They formed about 33 per cent of cultivators and 47 per cent of agricultural labourers.In India, work of a woman agricultural labourer or cultivator is limited to less-skilled jobs like sowing, transplanting, weeding and harvesting. Many women also participate in agricultural work as unpaid subsistence labour.Agriculture is seasonal and has been often unprofitable, forcing a majority of male members of households to migrate to cities to find an alternative source of livelihood. While men migrate, the responsibility of taking care of the family lies on women’s shoulders. They prefer to stay and complement family’s income by working on the fields. Migration, hence, has been one of the major reasons for women getting involved in this sector, even though it pays them less.Further, women cultivators are at loss without land titles. They participate in agricultural work as unpaid subsistence labour and are not recognised as farmers. Hence, they are unable to access credits and government benefits.Co-benefits of reducing wage disparity: women empowerment, food securityWomen’s multi-dimensional roles in agriculture, he said that women’s contribution towards reversing climate change and managing natural resources cannot be denied. Besides contributing to every aspect of agriculture”sowing, irrigation, plant protection, harvesting, weeding, and storage”women are also engaged in cattle management, fodder collection and other allied activities like beekeeping, mushroom production, suction farming, and goat and poultry rearing.According to FAO, if women farmers had equal access to land ownership, credit, farming equipment and new technologies, yields can increase by 30 per cent per household and countries can experience an increase in agricultural output by 2.5 to 4 per cent. Women also reinvest up to 90 per cent of their earnings back into their households”that’s the money spent on nutrition, food, health care, school, and income-generating activities that help in breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty.Problems faced by Women Farmers in India In India, the typical work of the female agricultural laborer or cultivator is limited to less skilled jobs, such as sowing, transplanting, weeding and harvesting, that often fit well within the framework of domestic life and child-rearing In all agricultural activities there is an average gender wage disparity, with women earning only 70 percent of men’s wage. Additionally many women also participate in agricultural work as unpaid subsistence labor Unlike male farmers and cultivators, their female counterparts remained doubly burdened during their peak productive period with their reproductive role seen as fundamental to their gender while the duties it entailed were socially created. So even as women labored in fields, they continued to have and rear children almost single-handedly. Thus, in addition to rigorous agricultural work that is undervalued and underpaid, women are also responsible for the well-being of the household. It has been observed that an Indian female agriculture worker spends around 25 hours doing in a week doing household chores and 5 hours in caring and community work. Besides the 30 hours of unpaid work, women spend the same amount of time as men carrying out agricultural work. Daughters typically assist their daughters in doing household chores. Girls do significantly more housework than boys, which compromises their schooling. Women seldom enjoy property ownership rights directly in their names. They have little control over decisions made in reference to land. Even with land in their names, they may not have actual decision-making power in terms of cropping patterns, sale, mortgage and the purchase of land. In India only 14.9% of households are female headed. Access to credit is difficult, since women lack many of the prerequisites for lending such as assets or ownership of property For women, access to credit is difficult, since they lack many of the prerequisites for lending such as assets or ownership of property Without access to capital or household decision making abilities women lack the resources that are necessary for their labor stability and stability of their householdsCauses: The Indian agriculture sector is typically characterized by the presence of gender discrimination, where women contribute extensively to the agricultural with no credits and no or very les remuneration. The condition of the women farmers can be improved only if the root cause of this existing gender division is identified and taken care of. Patriarchy is the root cause of the hurdles faced by not only women farmers but women in general Extreme poverty and lack of education are also some of the reasons for women’s low status in society. Educating girl child is still seen as a bad investment because she is bound to get married and leave her paternal home one day. Thus, without having good education women are found lacking in present day’s demanding job skills Women are not able to resolve the conflict between new economic and old domestic roles. In both rural and urban India, women spend a large proportion of time on unpaid home sustaining work. Rights and obligations within a house hold are not distributed evenly. Male ownership of assets and conventional division of labor reduce incentives for women to undertake new activities. In addition child bearing has clear implications for labor force participation by women. Time spent in bearing and rearing of children often results in de-skilling, termination of long term labor contacts Despite pronounced social development and technological advancement, women in our society still continue to be victims of exploitation, superstition, illiteracy and social atrocities. Last but not the least, most of the women are unaware of their basic rights and capabilities and are not aware of their socio-economic conditions, owing to which they are not being able to take decisions for themselvesSuggestions for improvement in agricultural women workers in India: Providing Agricultural Training Providing Basic Education Awareness in the Society Awareness with regard to Rights and Provisions Equal Job Opportunities Ensuring Equal Pay Mechanism Easy Credit Facilities Maternity Support ProgramsGovernment Initiative for Women FarmersGovernment of India has made special provisions for women farmers in various national schemes. Some of them are: National Mission on Agricultural Extension & Technology (NMAET) ” Sub-Mission on Agricultural Extension (SAME): Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA) ” Provides support for women Food Security Groups (FSGs), allocates Gender Coordinator’/State in the team of committed extension personnel to ensure that funds and benefits for training/ capacity building and extension support etc. are provided to them in proportion to their numbers. Also provides for mandatory representation of Women Farmers in State, District, Block Farmer Advisory Committees Agri-Clinics & Agri-Business Centers (ACABC) ” Provides 44% back-ended composite subsidy towards cost of project to women as compared to 36% to men Mass Media Support to Agricultural Extension ” One day specially allocated to cover areas of core competence women farmers in programs of All India Radio & Doordarshan Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH) ” Specific coverage of Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and women beneficiaries for programmatic interventions and assistance for horticulture mechanization along with assistance in procuring agricultural machinery and equipments Integrated Scheme for Agricultural Marketing (ISAM) ” Provides financial assistance in Storage Infrastructure Projects under Agriculture Marketing infrastructure (AMI) for Registered FPOs, Panchayats, Women, Scheduled Caste (SC)/Scheduled Tribe (ST) beneficiaries or their cooperatives/Self-help groups.. National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) ” At least 30% allocation of the funds is for women farmer Agricultural Insurance ” Training Programmes on Gender friendly Equipment for Women farmers are to be conducted by Farm Machinery Training & Testing Institutes and as beneficiaries at least 30% allocation of the fund is to be made to women farmers. Operational Holdings:State/India Number (in 000) Percentage variation in 2010-11 over 2005-16 2005-06 2010-11 Male Female Total Male Female Total Male Female TotalTamil Nadu 6647(5.84) 1527(10.10) 8193(6.34) 6548(5.44) 1551(8.77) 8118(5.87) -1.49 1.58 -0.91All India 113851 15115 129222 120427 17683 138348 5.78 16.99 7.06Out of a total of 138.35 million holdings in the country during 2010-11, the Tamil Nadu has 8.12 million (5.9 percent) of land holdings.