Demand for a Postage Stamp on Women Farmers sign now

March 08, 2005


The Honble Dr A P J Abdul Kalam
President of India
Rashtrapati Bhawan
New Delhi 110004

Tel.: 011-23015321
Fax: 011-23017290
Email: [email protected]


Honble Sir,

On March 8th when the world had been celebrating International Womens Day, about nine crore women cultivators and women agriculture labourers of India had no reasons to join the festivities a ritual for them, that failed to bring any ray of hopes in their lives. They would, rather take the opportunity to share their agony, deprivation and sufferings on the occasion. Indeed, women farmers perform more than 70\% of agricultural activities in India and other developing countries as well. They contribute significantly towards the development processes, economic prosperity, social development and self-reliance of the country. Their hard work is the key to food security of the nation from household to the national levels. Women represent one of the crucial development forces in the world. They grow, process, manage and market most of the food and natural resources.

According to the Census 2001, there are 32.59\% women cultivators as against the 67.41 male cultivators in the country. While the percentage of women agricultural labourers are 46.91\% against the 53.09\% male labourers. Considering the total population of women agricultural labourers (48372898), the percentage of female agricultural labourers is 43.40, which is much higher than the total rural male agricultural male population (54749291), which is merely 27.48\%.

Another study shows that nearly 84\% of all economically active women in India are engaged in agriculture and other allied activities. Agriculture employs 4/5th of all economically active women; they make 1/3rd of the agriculture labor force and 48\% self-employed farmers. There are 75 million women as against 15 million men in dairying and the number of women engaged in animal husbandry accounts for 20 million, as against 1.5 million men.

As per the World Economic Profile, women form 50\% of the worlds population, contribute 60\% work force, making up to 30\% of official labor force and contribute 50\% in food production. But their share in the agriculture productivity is either nil or very less. Traditionally, women have been playing an important role in agriculture activities and the major areas where women are more involved are winnowing, harvesting, threshing and processing, transplanting, fertilizing and weeding. The other off farm activities like storage and maintenance of seeds, homestead gardening, etc. are primarily women's responsibilities. Besides, they also play key role in irrigation, forestry, fisheries, and livestock.

Considering the agriculture activities, if a comparison of household and crop production, labor distribution amongst men and women is made, it becomes clear that men's labor hour are 40\% less as compared to women. Lot of women's time (about 35\%) is taken in household activities still, about is 43\% of their labor time is devoted to crop production related activities. According to the United Nations World Food Organization, their contribution to agriculture in terms of the number of tasks performed and time spent is greater than their male counterparts.

In general, women perform more agricultural operations than men. Both men and women perform the labor-intensive activities but the activities of men are related to animals and machines whereas women work for longer hours in the field and their work is more strenuous due to their reproductive responsibilities also. So, in a way, women do about 70\% of agricultural activities. They are exposed to the daily vulnerabilities too. Often women farmers are poorest of poor and most vulnerable. They are the first to bear the brunt of any adverse situations in emergencies while the men of the rural areas are away to pursue migrant labour and other work opportunities. It is women who devote greater time and labour to the agriculture activities and management of natural resources.

A significantly large population of nine crore (40635411 women cultivators plus 48372898 women agriculture labourers) women cultivators and women agriculture labourers in the country perform about 70\% of all the agriculture activities in the country. Yet, their invaluable contribution has never been recognized and women farmers are a neglected lot. They are ignored in the policy and practice. As a result, they are still poorest of poors, extremely marginalized, deprived and unlike to their male counterparts not even have the basic identity as a farmer .


According to a study, in Uttar Pradesh where 72\% population involved is involved in agricultural activities, is one of the largest contributors of food production towards the nations granaries. The total male population of the state is 8.75 crore with a total population of 7.86 crore women which constitutes 48.5\% of the total population in the state. However, woman in agriculture are still a neglected workforce. Although they are responsible for more than 70\% agricultural activities, their share in the agricultural productivity was only 12.9\% despite the work participation rate of 18.40\% according to the 1991 Census.

In spite of being the highest contribution of food grains to the national food stock, the wage rates for unskilled female labourers in Uttar Pradesh is much lower as compared to the other states. In 1997 while the average wage rates for un-skilled female labourers in the state was Rs. 49 per day; it was Rs 96 in Kerala, 94 in Karnataka, and 87 in Maharshtra. The state of womens control over the land also presents a gloomy picture in the State. Only 6\% women are legally owner of land while joint ownership over the land is astonishingly 3 percent.


Notwithstanding, the critical role a woman farmer play in the development of the country, their contribution has always been undermined, ostensibly due to the negative mind-set prevalent in the society, inadequate policies, lack of access and control over the resources etc. However, it is high time to bring this extremely productive but marginalized section of the society into mainstream of the development.

In view of the fact, we demand that a Postage Stamp on Woman Farmer may kindly be issued which we believe would help create an enabling environment to provide millions and millions of poor and marginalized women farmers of the country their due rights and recognition. The postage stamp, we demand would be a very small, symbolic in nature yet extremely positive and encouraging step in response to the immense contribution of women farmers in the overall development of the country, its continuing progress and self-reliance.

Such an initiative by the Govt. would also be in the true spirit of our pledges and commitments at various international fora. As you are aware, this year marks the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing, China in 1995. At that conference, 189 countries, including India, reached consensus on a Platform for Action to advance the status of women globally.

The impacts expected to come out from the issuing of the Postage Stamp, among other things, would:

* positively bring attitudinal change in the society by developing understanding of the social construction of gender and gender inequalities and creating gender sensitivity;

* be a positive step to provide women farmers a status, their rights and due recognition by influencing various sectors in furtherance of their aims and objectives towards gender mainstreaming in the policy, planning and programmes;

* make India, probably, to be the first country in the world, to have issued a postage stamp on women farmers. This will give the country a unique and significant position at international level

We, therefore, most humbly request you to kindly announce issuance of a Postage Stamp on Women Farmers and oblige millions and millions of poor and marginalized women farmers of our country.

Thanking you,

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