Women farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh gathered in Jantar Mantar on Monday, July 26, for a 'Kisan Sansad' or a farmer's Parliament to continue the protest against the Centre's farm laws. Women said that gender stereotypes have been blurred as men and women have come together to prolong their fight against the three farm laws. They raised slogans demanding that the Centre scrap the three legislations- Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act 2020, Farmers Empowerment and Protection Agreement on Price Assurance and farm services act 2020, and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020.
Resolution On Adequate Women Participation
At the Sansad, they passed two resolutions. Resolution 1: Despite an increasing women participation in farming activities, they lag in receiving dignity at par with their male counterparts. Their hard work, labour, skills and importance should not be undermined by not making them an active part of Kisan Andolan. There should be well-planned measures to pave the way for women representation in the protests. Resoluton 2: Imitating the pattern of panchayats and municipal committees, women should be given 33 per cent representation in Parliament. They contribute to half of the national population but are severely underrepresented. The sansad demanded a resolution to mandate adequate women representation.
Parallel to proceedings of the Monsoon Session in the Parliament, the agitating farmers are having their own 'Kisan Sansad' and discussions are on about how the farm laws are going to destroy the agriculture marketing system. Subhashini Ali, vice president of All India Democratic Women's Association, said that the government keeps calling the agitating crowd by different names like terrorists and Khalistanis. If they dare to call the farmers such names, they should not eat food produced by these 'terrorists and Khalistanis', the organisation said. The agitating women farmers said that men and women are leading the fight, standing shoulder to shoulder.
Talks between the contending sides are on for more than seven months now. The government is projecting these laws as major agricultural reform and a game-changer in a farmer's livelihood.however, the parties have failed to break the deadlock. The protest led by women began with the National Anthem, followed by a two-minute silence for the farmers who lost their lives while demanding the removal of the 'black laws'.
A higher proportion of women's representation will have multiple benefits. Firstly, it will uplift the gender equality status of Indian politics, which is one arena that is heavily male-dominated despite the existence of the fundamental right of equality. Secondly, if more women are leading the country on the national front, there would be an automatic upliftment of the social status of women in small towns across the country. At this point, it is difficult to say if discrimination at work would be eradicated, but women's representation will form the grounds for recognizing and signifying a woman's hard work.
23.5 Women Participation In Leadership Roles
Women's participation in Parliament has been a contentious topic since independence. In 1980, there were zero women candidates in election races. Sadly, four decades later, the country still has a bleak women's participation in politics and involvement in the Parliament. Currently, West Bengal is the only state in India that has a women chief minister. Globally, the rate of women's participation in leadership roles had seen a significant rise from 11.8 per cent in 1998 to 23.5 per cent in 2018. Women's participation has become increasingly important in international, national and local level activities. A political space that gives similar preference to men and women has a better development scope since a wider range of issues will be discussed and solutions proposed.
Women have been heads of state in 22 countries, whereas 119 countries have never had a woman leader. The five most commonly held portfolios by women are family-oriented, health, children, social development and women affairs. A survey by UN Women projects that at the current rate of progress, the world will not achieve gender parity in national policy-making before 2063. Data collected from 133 countries showed that women constitute nearly 36 per cent of elected members in local deliberative bodies.
The recent reshuffle of Prime Minister Modi's Cabinet saw 11 women ministers, which is the highest since 2004. The 2019 general elections saw 78 women racing for a seat in Parliament. Even though India is slowly crawling towards increasing women's participation in elections according to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), we are far from becoming gender-equal in national political representation. There are certain success stories of women's representation in politics in recent years, like Pramila Bisoyi, who won the election and became the Member of Parliament from Odisha. However, when it comes to their involvement and decision-making powers, the powers still rest in the hands of men.
There is no second thought that there is a need to provide women with equal opportunities and preferences in politics. However, it also depends on women to take a stand and demand representation. The current farm protests are a glimmering example of how women's leadership and involvement are necessary. Thousands of farmers have been been camping near the Delhi border since November 2020, braving the chilly winter, mighty summer and rains. They fear that the laws by the government will make them vulnerable to corporate exploitation and would take away their security under the Minimum Support Price (MSP). Holistic participation can aid the political parties in being sensitive to constituent concerns and help secure lasting peace. It would also encourage the citizen to trust the democracy better since the leader would belong to them. Especially in developing and under-developed countries, men and women must come together to resolve a myriad of problems and become strong, inclusive and interdependent nations.