National women’s organisations have written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding that the government stop repressing the farmers’ legitimate and peaceful protests immediately. They have asked that all cases imposed on the struggling farmers and leaders of the farmers’ organisations be withdrawn and that the three anti-farmer Acts enacted during the pandemic, be repealed.
The letter has been written by the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA), Pragitsheem Mahila Sangathan (PMS), All India Mahila Sanskritik Sangathan (AIMSS), All India Agragami Mahila Samiti (AIAMS). The organisations have asked PM Modi to “stop encouragement to contract farming”, fix and guarantee a minimum support price (MSP) for all agricultural produce, and “ensure decentralised procurement by government”.
They have also demanded “loan waivers for farmers, especially widows of farmers who have committed suicide” and those who have taken loans from microfinance companies and SHGs. The open letter highlights the current hunger and poverty situation prevailing in the country and has sought that the government “universalise PDS, ensure mid-day meals to students, monthly income support to all vulnerable families and universal social security support for health care and education.
They have highlighted the adverse impact of the government policies, and the three anti-farmer laws passed by your government on women in the rural sector. “Women, even though not recognised as farmers, are equally engaged in agricultural operations. A large number of women still remain as “invisible contributors”. The role of women in the agricultural sector cannot be ignored as they comprise 33% of the agriculture labour force and 48% of the self-employed farmers,” they wrote.
These laws and policies, state the organisations, have “put agriculture dependent families under severe indebtedness and resulted in increased farmer suicides”. That has put women farmers from the suicide affected families in an extremely vulnerable situation as the women do not hold land titles, and so receive no help from the governments to cope with the crisis. The women’s groups have strongly expressed solidarity with the farmers’ struggle and have told the PM they will soon hold “nationwide protests against the ruthlessness exhibited by the Union government under your leadership.”
The Open Letter may be read here
Shri Narendra Modi.
We, the undersigned national women’s organisations are deeply concerned about the adverse impact of your policies and the recent three anti-farmer laws passed by your government on women in the rural sector. Women, even though not recognised as farmers, are equally engaged in agricultural operations. A large number of women still remain as “invisible contributors”. The role of women in the agricultural sector cannot be ignored as they comprise 33% of the agriculture labour force and 48% of the self-employed farmers.
Farmers are reeling from persistent agrarian distress and the economic impact resulting from the unplanned and draconian measures taken by your government to deal with the pandemic. This has put agriculture dependent families under severe indebtedness and resulted in increased farmers suicides. Women farmers from the suicide affected families are in a totally vulnerable situation. Women are not the holders of land titles. Hence they receive no help from the governments to cope with the double calamity of indebtedness and suicide that hits them. The escalating price rise of essential commodities, unemployment and hunger is having serious consequences on the lives of women and vulnerable families.
The Agricultural Trade and Commerce Act, Farmers Price Assurance Act and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act enacted by the Union Government in October 2020 have evoked nationwide protests which include huge participation of women farmers, as it will put farmers and their families at the mercy of agri-businesses. Encouragement to contract farming will lead to further landlessness and destitution. These laws will lead to the destitution of women farmers with no protection from the unsparing loot by the corporate lobby. These acts will lead to decreasing decentralised procurement by government and dismantling of the public distribution system. Farmers’ organisations have been consistently raising the demands of loan waivers and fixation of a minimum support price on the basis of the report of the Swaminathan Commission. It is unfortunate that your government has chosen to disregard these just demands and push the farmers into further misery by passing the anti-farmer laws.
We strongly condemn the brutal repression of the farmers’ struggle, tear-gassing and water cannoning them in the bitter cold. The BJP-RSS central and the BJP UP and Haryana state governments too have unleashed unprecedented barbarity on the peaceful farmers wanting to reach Delhi for their just demands.
We express solidarity with the farmers’ struggle and will hold nationwide protests against the ruthlessness exhibited by the Union government under your leadership.
The National Women’s Organisations demand:
Stop repression of farmer’s legitimate and peaceful protests immediately.
Withdrawal of all cases imposed on the struggling farmers and leaders of the farmers’ organisations.
Repeal the three anti-farmer Acts enacted during the pandemic.
Stop encouragement to contract farming.
Fixation and guarantee of minimum support price for all agricultural produce and ensure decentralised procurement by government.
Considering the situation of hunger and poverty, universalise PDS.
Ensure mid-day meal to students.
Loan waivers for farmers, especially widows of farmers who have committed suicide and those who have taken loans from microfinance companies and SHGs.
Monthly income support to all vulnerable families.
Universal social security support for health care and education.
ALL INDIA DEMOCRATIC WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION (AIDWA)
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDIAN WOMEN (NFIW)
ALL INDIA PROGRESSIVE WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION (AIPWA)
PRAGATISHEEL MAHILA SANGHATAN (PMS)
ALL INDIA MAHILA SANSKRITIK SANGHATAN (AIMSS)
ALL INDIA AGRAGAMI MAHILA SAMITI (AIAMS)