Skip to main content

Farm yields can increase by 20% if women get decision-making powers


By Moin Qazi*
Gender remains a critically important but largely ignored lens to view development issues across the world. Gender inequality is not only a pressing moral and social issue but also a critical economic challenge. India has a larger relative economic value at stake in advancing gender equality. However, despite some significant gains, some gaps remain. Although India has narrowed the divide between men and women in primary education and health sector, it doesn’t measure well in other major development metrics. Gender equality has become a highly publicised development goal, but data show how slow progress has been.
Gender equality refers to the rights, responsibilities, and opportunities of women and men, girls and boys. It does not imply that women and men are the same, but that the interests, needs, and priorities of both women and men should be taken into consideration while recognizing diversity across different populations.
According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2017, India has slipped 21 places to a lowly 108. While India is ranked an impressive 15th out of 144 countries in political empowerment, it is ranked 112thfor education and 141st for health and survival. The economic participation ranking is 139th out of 144 with a 66 percent gender gap. It says that on an average 66% of women’s work in India is unpaid, compared to 12% of men’s. In case of China, 44% of women’s work is unpaid, while for men the figure stood at 19%.At this rate of change, the WEF estimates it will take 217 years for women’s access to economic opportunity to be on a par with that of men – a chilling increase from 170 years in 2016.
Gender discrimination continues to be an enormous problem within the Indian society as well. Traditional patriarchal norms have relegated women to a secondary status within the household and workplace. This drastically affects women’s health, financial status, education, and political involvement. Women are commonly married young, quickly become mothers, and are then burdened by stringent domestic and financial responsibilities.
Women are still perceived as an important “capital-bearing” object, both in how they are seen as a “subordinate” confined to domestic and caring roles behind closed doors, and how they are portrayed d as a “sexual” form through popular culture. A recent study by OECD found that women in India work nine hours a day on average, compared to seven hours a day for men. Most of this time is spent on unpaid activities, such as household work and care giving for the elderly or for children, leaving little time for paid labour or social and leisure activities. This scarcity of discretionary time is referred to as ‘time poverty’ For example, nursing and care work is largely a female occupation and is often undervalued or seen as a “natural” female trait.
According to the Global Poverty Project 2014, women make up half the world’s population and yet represent a staggering 70 percent of the world’s poor. They earn only 10% of the world’s income and half of what men earn Women face worse prospects in almost every aspect of their daily lives – education, employment opportunities, health or financial inclusion. As the report notes, “We live in a world in which women living in poverty face gross inequalities and injustice from birth to death. From poor education to poor nutrition to vulnerable and low pay employment, the sequence of discrimination that a woman may suffer during her entire life is unacceptable but all too common.”
Women experience barriers in almost every aspect of work, including:
  • Whether they have paid work at all;
  • The type of work they obtain or are excluded from;
  • The availability of support services such as childcare;
  • Their pay, benefits, and conditions of work;
  • The insecurity of their jobs or enterprises; and
  • Their access to vocational training.
Women bear the greater brunt of poverty. In India, where a patriarchal system is deeply entrenched, only 13 percent of farmland is owned by women. The figure is even lower when it comes to Dalit women who are single. About 12 percent of India’s female population is classified as single, including women who are widowed, divorced, separated, and older unmarried women, according to the 2011 census. About 41 percent of households headed by women in India do not own land and make a living through casual manual labour.
All women, regardless of their marital status, need access to education, good jobs, and support for domestic duties. Both widows and married women deserve freedom from culturally entrenched marital practices that degrade and commodify them, as well as legal protection from their husbands’ debts. Although transforming long-held laws, beliefs and practices may be difficult, it is the only way to keep price tags off women and ensure that they have dignity as well as true economic agency. It has been said that women who are closest to the world’s most pressing issues are best placed to solve them. In many countries, women are adjusting to large-scale economic changes through community-based grassroots organizing efforts. But can women be expected to use local solutions to clean up and compensate for larger economic problems without also being allowed to influence larger decisions?
What needs to be changed? Improvement in access to quality education for girls can boost their future income, save mothers’ and children’s lives, reduce rates of child malnutrition, and reduce overall poverty levels. For all interventions, the fundamental logic is plain: If we are going to end extreme poverty, we need to start with girls and women.
Discrimination against women and girls is a pervasive and long-running phenomenon that has bedevilled Indian society at every level. Socially prescribed gender roles that have become deeply entrenched continue to hold women back. Cultural institutions in India, particularly those of patrilineality (inheritance through male descendants) and patrilocality (married couples living with or near the husband’s parents), play a central role in perpetuating gender inequality and ideas about gender-appropriate behaviour. A culturally embedded parental preference for sons – emanating from their importance as care providers for parents in old age – leads to poorer consequences for daughters.
Women work tirelessly to end poverty and hunger in their families. But it can take much more than hard work. They need new tools to create their own paths forward. They need opportunities that can overcome economic, cultural and gender barriers. It needs multi-sectoral cooperation to create breakthrough ideas and solutions to break down economic, social and technical barriers.
We have for long made paternalistic decision to “protect” these women, thereby eliminating their ability to solve issues that they face. Why couldn’t they decide for themselves how to manage their own situation? Why couldn’t we equip them to decide how they can take their own decisions? The key levers for change, from the ground up, are clearly female education and women’s access to income.
What does the empowerment of women entail? At a basic level, it means gaining control over sources of power like material assets, self-assertion and ability to take part in making decisions that affect their lives. It means nurturing their self confidence and empowering girls and young women living in poverty to make informed choices .For this, women must have equal opportunities, capabilities, and access to resources which has been denied by men due to entrenched social conditioning. The implicit bias of males and how it creeps into everyday life needs to better understood by everyone. Bringing this issue in both household and societal discussions can be a crucial first step in changing the status quo.
This would obviously mean a redistribution of the existing power relations and, finally, a challenge to the patriarchal ideology and male dominance as the concept of women empowerment is linked with gender equality. Gender equality in the household and in society has large development payoffs.
Amidst this gloom, there are slivers—and truly, these are slivers—of hope. Fortunately, the world is now awakening to a powerful truth: Women and girls aren’t the problem; they’re the solution .Melinda Gates, who is now spearheading a major campaign for a proper time balance for the women, particularly the poor, commends three R’s: “Recognize that unpaid work is still work. Reduce the amount of time and energy it takes. And redistribute it more evenly between women and men”.
There is now increasing realization that gender dynamics is not just a women’s problem that they should try to fix alone. Engaging women alone is not enough. To make real progress, we need to engage men as well. Society must see the bigger picture, which is to say that by including men in the conversations, we are broadening their understanding and awareness and. If we are serious about empowering women, then men must be part of the conversation. Men must understand how unconscious masculine behaviors take hold — the ones we see, experience and take for granted, which we tend to label as “normal sexism.”
Educating leaders on implicit and explicit bias is key to cracking this tough nut of gender disparity. That was recently demonstrated by a BBC social experiment. For example, when boys wore girls’ clothes, unknowing adults gave them dolls to play with – and when girls wore boys’ clothes, they were encouraged to ride bikes.
While closing the gender gap is imperative for overall wellbeing of society, it can have more profound impact in agriculture. Today, for example, women typically work on smaller, less productive plots of land than men, and often lack access to the best seeds, fertilizer, credit, and training opportunities. Studies show that giving women more decision-making power over productive assets has the potential to increase farm yields by more than 20%.
Ela Bhatt, the founder of SEWA and one of India’s tallest social workers emphasizes the creative role of women in leading social change: “In my experience, women are the key to rebuilding a community. Focus on women, and you will find allies who want a stable community… In women, you get a worker, a provider, a caretaker, an educator, a networker. She is a forger of bonds—in her, essentially, you have a creator and a preserver.”

*Development expert

Comments

TRENDING

Vishwanath has been unfairly excluded from global list of 100 best cricketers

By Harsh Thakor  Gundappa Vishwanath scaled zones in batting artistry or wizardry unparalleled amongst Indian batsmen. The best of his batting was a manifestation of the divine. He was also the epitome of cricketing sportsmanship. Sadly 40 years ago he unceremoniously bid farewell to the International cricket world, after the concluding test at Karachi in 1982-83., in January end. Very hard to visualise a character like Vishwanath being reborn today His memories are embedded in cricket lovers today when sportsmanship and grace have virtually been relegated to oblivion with the game of cricket turned into a commercial commodity. Today agro and unsporting behaviour is a routine feature Vishy shimmered cricket’s spirituality. His behaviour on the cricket field was grace personified, No one in his age defined cricket more as a gentleman’s game, than Vishy. Vishwanath could execute strokes that were surreal with his steel wrists. His strokeplay resembled the touches of a painter’s brush,

Abrogation of Art 370: Increasing alienation, relentless repression, simmering conflict

One year after the abrogation by the Central Government of Art. 370 in Kashmir, what is the situation in the Valley. Have the promises of peace, normalcy and development been realised? What is the current status in the Valley? Here is a detailed note by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties , “Jammu & Kashmir: One Year after Abrogation of Art. 370: Increasing Alienation, Relentless Repression, Simmering Conflict”:

Reproductive, conjugal rights of women in India amidst debate of uniform civil code

By IMPRI Team  A Three-Day Immersive Online Legal Awareness and Certificate Training Course on “Reproductive and Conjugal Rights of Women in India” is an initiative of the Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC), at the IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, and ran for three consecutive days starting from December 22, 2022 to December 24, 2022. The online paid certification was aimed to provide attendees with an enriching experience on the gender discourse with a special focus on women’s rights and the much-discussed reproductive rights in India.

Covid jabs: Pretexts cited to justify young, healthy succumbing to heart attacks

By Jay Ihsan   Truth is stranger than fiction – when dedicated doctors raised the red flag against the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines, they were persecuted and their concerns barred from being heard. These honest doctors unequivocally made it known the Moderna Pfizer vaccines injure the heart and human body. One of them, Dr Peter McCullough, an American cardiologist, has repeatedly issued the clarion call to people to reject these harmful vaccines. An equally alarmed World Council for Health said the harmful Covid-19 vaccines should be removed from the market and the global inoculation must be stopped. “In Japan the vaccines were not mandated or made compulsory. The vaccines are not safe or effective enough to mandate them. The day the vaccines go away will be a day of celebration,” Dr Mccullough had lamented during an interview with India’s media outfit, Qvive several months ago. Meanwhile, the number of people jabbed with the Covid-19 mRNA vaccines died soon after or have developed lifelong

Gender gap 17%, SC and ST levels of education between 7% to 14% below upper classes

By IMPRI Team  The treatment of school education in a holistic manner and improving school effectiveness in terms of equal opportunities for schooling and learning outcomes has been the aspiration of all and multiple challenges are faced to maintain and provide proper education. On the occasion of India@75: Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, as part of its series- the State of Education- #EducationDialogue, #IMPRI Center for ICT for Development (CICTD), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organised a special deliberation on The State of School Education In India with Prof Muchkund Dubey, who is the President of the Council for Social Development, New Delhi. The moderator for the event, Dr Simi Mehta CEO and Editorial Director of the IMPRI. The chair of the event was Prof Jandhyala B.G. Tilak, an Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) National Fellow, the Distinguished Professor at the Council for Social Development, New Delhi and also a Former Professor & Vice-Ch

Rahul Dravid exhibited selflessness in heights unscaled by any other Indian batsman

By Harsh Thakor*  On January 11th maestro Rahul Dravid turned 50. No Indian batsmen were ever more of an embodiment of temperament or grit.as Rahul Dravid. Dravid was the best ambassador of sportsmanship in cricket in his day and age. In his time no Asian batsmen did what the doctor ordered, to the extent of Dravid. Dravid was manifestation of single-mindedess, tenacity and selflessness in sport. One hardly has an adjective to the ice coolness and craft Dravid exhibited in adjusting to the given situation. Rarely did any batsmen exhibit such a clinical o methodical approach to batting.

NHRC blindly followed BSF status report on fencing farmland off Indo-Bangladesh border

Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) writes an open letter of protest against the action taken status report on restriction imposed by the BSF personnel upon the villagers of Changmari near Indo-Bangladesh border: *** I have the honour to inform you that we received one action taken status report dated 11.01.2023 from your Commission in respect of the above referred case from where it is revealed that your authority closed the case based on the report of the concerned authorities. In this connection I again raise my voice as the enquiry in respect of the above referred case was not properly conducted. Hence I submit this open letter of protest for the ends of justice. From the action taken status report of the Commission dated 11.01.2023 it is reported that concerned authority submitted a report dated 18.01.2022 where it is reported that the concerned area comes under the OPS responsibility of BOP Chengmari, 62 Bn BSF and is highly susceptible to trans-bo

Data analytics: How scientific enquiry process impacts quality of policy research

By IMPRI Team  Given the multidimensionality of policy and impact research, tech-driven policy prescriptions are playing a dominant role in the 21st century. As such, data analytics have become integral in this space. IMPRI Generation Alpha Data Centre (GenAlphaDC) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute New Delhi has successfully conducted a #WebPolicyTalk 6-Week Immersive Online Hands-on Certificate Training Course on Data Analytics for Policy Research, spanning over 6-consecutive Saturdays from October 15th to November 19th, 2022. Along with this, datasets for hands-on learning were also provided for data analysis and learning. Participants were required to make a submission for evaluation at the end of the course, to obtain the certificate. This course comprised hands-on data learning sessions and various expert sessions on data discourses. The course especially catered to data and policy enthusiasts – including students, professionals, researchers, and other individuals lo

Brutal assault on Delhi Univ students as fear grips present rulers on rise of dissent

By Arhaan Baaghi  Various democratic student organizations (bsCEM, fraternity, DSU, SIO, AIRSO) had planned a screening of the BBC documentary "India: The Modi Question" in the Delhi University Arts Faculty, but the guards of the university and the Delhi police along with paramilitary forcefully detained the students just because we were trying to watch a documentary that scrutinizes the role of Modi in 2002 Gujarat riots. At first when the students started screening the documentary, the electricity of the department building was cut down. Students were brutally beaten by the police and university guards. Female students were also brutally manhandled and beaten. This whole incident shows the Brahmanical Hindutva fascist nature of the government and the university authority that is working as its puppet. An activist of bsCEM was manhandled by a male security guard, who tried to pull out his T shirt. Also various female activist were dragged by male security guards and their h

Great march of migrants during lockdown: Lessons not learned, missed opportunities

By IMPRI Team  A panel discussion on “The Great March of Migrants During The National Lockdown: Lessons Not Learned and Missed Opportunities” was organized by the #IMPRI Center for Human Centre for Human Dignity and Development (CHDD), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi on the occasion of International Migrants Day, i.e December 18, 2022. Inaugurating the session, Ms Aanchal Kumari, a researcher at IMPRI, welcomed the speakers and participants to the program with an introduction to the eminent panellists. The event was moderated by Dr Devender Singh, a Visiting Senior Fellow at IMPRI. The panellists included Prof. R.B Bhagat, Professor and Head, Department of Migration and Urban Studies, International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai; Prof Arun Kumar, Distinguished Economist, a Former Professor Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi and Malcolm S. Adiseshiah Chair Professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi; Ms Akriti Bhatia, Founder of People