Hyderabad: “Why should we go back? This is not just the men’s protest. We toil in the fields alongside the men. Who are we—if not farmers?” asked 74-year-old Jasbir Kaur, who has been camping at the Ghazipur protest site for over three months against the Indian government’s three contentious farm laws.
Kaur is one of the many women who were honoured by the American news magazine TIME in its March edition. On its magazine cover, it featured a group of women farmers ‘on the frontlines of India’s farmer protests’ and highlighted their role in the protests, equal to that of men.
Supreme Court in early January persuaded elderly people and women to return home, as protests intensified. “In response, women farmers—mostly from the rural states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh—scrambled onto stages, took hold of microphones and roared back a unanimous “No!”
In fact, after the court suggested women to leave, they “started to pour in. They came with their families. They came with other women. They came alone. It’s no less than a miracle,” TIME wrote.
The spirit of these protests, the TIME report states, is changing these women who have been subjected to gender bias in the agricultural sector and society as a whole. “They are claiming their identities as farmers,” the report notes.
The report also addresses women’s contributions to farming that are overlooked as part of their household duties.
According to an Oxfam India study, 85 percent of rural women work in agriculture, but only around 13 percent own any land. “Women are not seen as farmers. Their labor is immense but invisible,” Jasbir Kaur Nat, a member of the Punjab Kisan Union told TIME.
“I didn’t know what I was capable of beyond the expectations of me as a woman, a wife and mother,” the magazine quoted 55-year-old Sudesh Kandela, who had never before been to a protest or taken her veil off outside her home.
The farmer protests at the borders of New Delhi reached their 100th day on Friday.