Discuss the various economic and socio-cultural forces that are driving increasing feminization of agriculture in India.

Published: January 17, 2015

More than half of Indian work force is still dependent on agriculture as a source of revenue. However due to creeping crisis in agriculture, rural men migrate to India’s cities, to work as construction laborers, lorry loaders, rickshaw pullers, domestic servants and street vendors. Due to this male migration, family behind in the village is raised by de facto female-headed families. In addition to undertaking what has traditionally been men’s work, they are also responsible for what are regarded as women’s duties – a double burden.
Feminization of agriculture refers to the ever increasing participation of women in the agricultural labor force. Such an increasing feminization is driven by a combination of socio economic cultural factors operating in tandem.
Economic Factors

  • Poverty: The state of poverty pushes the women members to work in the agricultural fields to supplement the income levels of the family.
  • Gender Wage Differentials: Men are paid more than women. When they can get more by working elsewhere, a low-income pursuit is left for women.
  • Rural to Urban Migration: Male migration forcing women to fill in for them in the agricultural fields.
  • High demand for agricultural laborers: Traditional way of agriculture is followed which is labor intensive, and hence a high level of demand for laborers already persists in the agricultural sector. It is further intensified by the aforementioned rural to urban migration.

Social Factors

  • Increasing feminization of old age: Due to greater life expectancy, women outlive men and hence widows end up heading a family and taking to the agricultural fields.

Cultural factors

  • Cultural acceptance: Agriculture has traditionally been an acceptable avenue of work for women in rural areas, otherwise infamous for many a stigmas when it comes to women’s employability in workplaces.

Reversing this trend is important, for stable families hold the key to social stability in the nation. Men living in slums , accompanied by women left behind in villages, does not provide the basis of a secure and stable future for the nation. Building better amenities in villages is necessary for making shining India a truer picture of the lives of its village people.

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