Reported By: Ms.P.V Swati, Officer, Gender Mainstreaming
Edited By: Communications Team
Gumla,Jharkhand: In an attempt to capacitate regional partners working on livelihood to further their engagement with issues of gender inequity, IGSSS conducted a series of training sessions on meanings and methods of gender mainstreaming from 18th to 20th February, 2015. Our partners Samerth and SITARA who are working in Surguja, Chhattisgarh and Gumla, Jharkhand, respectively, were selected to be developed as model organizations integrating thematic focus on livelihood with a gender perspective.
The two partners went through comprehensive sessions aimed at mainstreaming an understanding of gender as constructed social roles which transpire into unequal access and allocation of resources.Given the extensive work of the two partners in furthering organic and sustainable farming methods with communities of small and marginal farmers, the training sessions had special focus on issues of women farmers.
Suvigya Pathak from Samerth shared that, “Women’s absence from the abstract imagination of public space nullifies their role as farmers reducing their contribution towards agricultural processes as merely the extension of their domestic roles”. Another staff representative mentioned that women are by tradition not allowed to plough the field as it is considered a bad omen which will prevent rains and cause drought. Moreover, as women are not identified as farmers, they lack access to key resources and schemes such as Kisan Credit Cards which are crucial. The regional and local Kisan clubs also deny membership to women as the land pattas are never by their name. Thus, women’s contribution to agriculture is completely devalued and they are systematically denied their rightful identity of a farmer. Field mobilizers from SITARA also pointed out the specific kind of vulnerabilities and exploitation faced by single women engaged in farming as their access to market, credit and common property resources are doubly restricted.
However, our regional partners also shared some best practices which have helped women farmers make certain leaps. In both the targeted constituencies of Surguja and Gumla women farmers have now started attending trainings programmes on farming methods organized by government and other stakeholders. Women farmers have also taken a lead in promoting and propagating organic farming methods at the community level.
The training sessions on meanings and methods of gender mainstreaming in this manner not only highlighted the need to address the concerns and challenges faced by women farmers, but also drew attention to issues of malnutrition and sexual and reproductive health faced by women at the ground level. The two partners,Samerth and SITARA intend to gender mainstream their work on farm-based livelihood options with triple objectives of empowering women farmers, promoting nutrition and enabling better access to sexual and reproductive health. While these goals constitute a long-term vision of the two organizations in gender mainstreaming their work, the efforts invested in their capacitation have proved extremely important for perspective building which integrates gender and livelihood.