India: PROMOTING GENDER EQUALITY IN THE VALUE CHAIN DEVELOPMENT – Green Innovation Centers (GIC)

“When women thrive, all of society benefits, and succeeding generations are given a better start in life.” – Kofi Annan, Ghanaian diplomat and former General Secretary of the United Nations

Introduction:

Agriculture is an important engine of enhancing livelihoods and reducing poverty in India, but the sector is underperforming. One reason for this is because women, who play a crucial role in agriculture and the rural economy are barely recognised as workers, are often without an identity and face unequal opportunities which in turn is hampering the sector. Women empowerment can contribute to a successful and sustainable agricultural sector. Therefore, gender equality and women empowerment are important aspects in the activities of the Green Innovation Centre India. To achieve a world free from hunger and malnutrition, it is essential that both women and men are provided with the same opportunities and can participate and benefit equally from development interventions. By empowering women to have equal access to resources, the productivity of the agriculture sector can be improved. GIZ promotes gender equality as both a fundamental human right as well as an essential means of achieving its project objectives. Empowered women make invaluable contribution not just in agriculture but also for the improvement of health, education and productivity of whole families and communities, which in turn results in overall development of the society. The Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations set SDG-5 to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Situation of women in agriculture in India:

Globally, feminisation of agriculture is taking place, as more men move to non-farm jobs. In Asia, 43 per cent of agricultural workers were women in 2012 (Agarwal, 2018: 5). However, women’s typical tasks like fieldwork, cattle care, fetching fodder and firewood remains mostly invisible and less or completely unpaid. In India, women employed in farming are paid between 90 per cent in Gujarat and 54 per cent in Tamil Nadu of men’s salary for the same type of work (Indian Statistical Institute Delhi Centre 2011: 1). Due to the definition of work biased e.g. by income, Indian rural women’s work participation was reported at 17.5 per cent in 2012, while a wider definition adding home-based production, self-employment and declared unemployment, pushed the rate up to 64.8 per cent (Dubey et al, 2017: 1).
Underlying these inequalities is the lower bargaining power of women within families and communities. Bargaining power itself is determined by employment, ownership of private property and independent land rights, as well as by social norms in the family, the community, the market and the state (Agarwal, 1997: 37f). Only 19 to 20 per cent of women own land in South India, while in India’s North-Western states, less than 10 to 15 per cent women own land (Agarwal, 2018: 8). In 2005, India’s inheritance laws were changed to give Hindu women the same rights as men to inherit agricultural land and ancestral property, legally benefitting 500 million women (Agarwal, 2018: 10f). It is to be seen whether this change remains only on paper. Farming output and food security will increasingly depend on women farmers. However, women have limited access to land, irrigation, productive inputs, credit facilities, new technologies and markets (Agarwal, 2018: 5). In India, this kind of gender inequality is prevalent in every sector.

Considering the gravity of the issue as a serious threat for development, several policy initiatives and schemes are operational at national, state and grassroots levels (A separate document with list of all the schemes is provided as attachment). Gaining support from government schemes, women now take leadership roles in the society, for instance as head of a Self-Help Group (SHG), head of Village Organizations or “Gram Sangathan” which then represents the group in the “Gram Sabha”. Thus, the roles are slowly changing but the drudgery remains the same. Women who are participating in all these processes are not devoid of their reproductive works, their responsibilities in farming or the household. Men seem to realize the condition of women but are often reluctant to accept carrying out traditional female responsibilities. Patriarchal structures in India hamper the thought process and development of women rights in the country systematically.

Gender mainstreaming in the project:

Women’s role in the Green Innovation Centre project: The Green Innovation Centre India (GIC) works along value chains in the agriculture and food sector and aims at increasing the productivity and income of small-scale farming enterprises. The project acknowledges that equality between women and men in access to resources, services and other means of production as well as in decision-making is a way of promoting sustainable agricultural production and value chain development.
All along the value chains of the projects’ crops potato, tomato and apple, women traditionally play a key role, providing 40-50 percent of the labour force in all productive tasks. However, their role is often limited to production-related labour works. Additional to all household chores, women are mostly employed for planting, weeding and harvesting except heavy earthen work such as digging, ploughing or operating tractors. For instance, in Jharkhand, women are by tradition not allowed to use the bullocks, without a clear reason. Women’s involvement in marketing and decision-making of the crop is limited as they tend to lose out control over the product as it moves from farm to the market and thereafter income. They are almost never employed in commerce or transportation of the produce. The processing industry employs women in less physically demanding work. These conditions are due to cultural restrictions and a lack of awareness, technical knowledge, access to education and information, training and exposure, credit, technology or advisory services.
The Green Innovation Centre is keen to address the above-mentioned gaps through relevant interventions. Gender aspects have been an integral part of the project since the project’s planning and conceptualization phase. The objectives of the project give due importance to gender targets and figures to be achieved within the project duration:
• Creating new jobs in up- and downstream enterprises of the value chain, of which 35 per cent should be women.
• Training and competence building of stakeholders involved along the value chain targeting 35 per cent women.
• Improving sector conditions through promoting a gender enabling environment.

Pillars of intervention for women empowerment

In order to work towards women empowerment, four pillars of intervention are conceptualized. These are the four areas of possible intervention for the Green Innovation Centre project:
• Awareness raising
• Training and capacity building

• Institution building
• Access to resources

Ongoing activities for gender inclusion in the project:
In the past, the project has adopted the following strategies and interventions in mainstreaming gender across the value chains at various levels.

Awareness raising: At project level, following initiatives are taken to create awareness among staff about gender equality and gender mainstreaming:
• Recruitment and sensitization of staff: There is consistent effort to employ an equal number of female staff in the project. We work towards sensitizing staff members of the project and implementing partners about gender equality. For example, GIZ staff members need to attend an orientation workshop where they are trained about GIZ guidelines on gender mainstreaming.
• Gender analysis workshops: Implementing agencies have conducted gender analysis workshops across the project sites in order to understand the challenges faced by women and to design strategies to mainstream them. The project also organized a gender mainstreaming workshop on 13 and 14 March 2018 in Bangalore for its partners. As a follow-up, the partners agreed to undertake a gender analysis in their respective operational areas across the tomato and potato value chains (click HERE for the reports). In-depth analysis of gender situation was conducted in Himachal Pradesh to understand the low representation of women in GIC project interventions and the reasons behind it. Report will be available by end of December 2019.
• Review and reports: Gender is always a part of the agenda in the yearly review meetings. The partners discuss on the status of women farmers in the project and the ways to enhance their role and thus ensure that the women farmers are able to access their entitlements. In review meetings on the field level, women members of the farmer study groups share their experience may be in adopting an innovative practice, as an entrepreneur among others. Project encourages women farmers to talk to wider audience and to visitors about their experience.
• International Women’s Day (IWD): The IWD occasion is observed to intensify the discussions on the strategies to enhance gender equality and the interface with the authorities and policy makers. For example, the Mahila Abhivruddhi Society, Andhra Pradesh (APMAS), a public society that strengthens institutions of women and farmers, celebrates the IWD by recognising and awarding women farmers who have been early adopters of the innovations introduced through the project; in events organised by Village Development Committees (VDC).
• Communication material: Ensuring gender sensitive communication is another key strategy adopted under the GIC project. In our visual language, we aim to challenge traditional stereotypes and show women in leadership, teaching or technical positions. In our written communication, we aim at using a non-discriminative and empowering language. When using case studies in our external communication, we represent stories from female and male farmers equally.

Training and capacity building

• Adoption of technology to reduce women drudgery: We are trying to introduce innovative technologies or mechanization to reduce the farm drudgery of women
o Easy planter to reduce women’s drudgery in transplantation
o Cycle weeders and mulching sheets in reducing drudgery of women
o Potato planter and harvester
Farm women from Maharashtra is driving a tractor and you can see the video clip in the DMS link provided at the end.

• Trainings and exposure visits to gender focal points and women farmers: Trainings and exposure visits are organized for women farmers on different technical themes such as reducing cost of cultivation, increasing the productivity, farmer field schools, collective procurement and marketing etc. Till end of the year 2018, project has trained above 18.000 women (31 per cent of total trainees) on the above-mentioned topics. Two staff members from partner organisation attended seminars on rural women during 2016 and 2017 in Germany. In 2018, an exposure visit of three gender focal points to Germany (Feldafing) on leadership and organisation skills for rural women provided valuable insights to develop strategies focusing on women leadership and entrepreneurial aspects. Further, frequent exposure visits are organised for farm women within the project sites (Maharashtra and Karnataka states) to experience success of the project activities. Recently, 30 women farmers from 4 project states were taken on exposure visit to SEWA organisation in Gujarat to experience entrepreneurial and business skills.
• Employment: As a result of the trainings provided, it has been possible to create employment to women farmers in project sites. Total employment generated under the project is 656 by December 2018. Out of 656, 34 per cent employees are women working as model nurseries employees, supporting staff, CEOs of Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), grading and processing.

Institution building

After creating awareness and capacity building, it is crucial to institutionalise the process of gender mainstreaming to ensure sustainability of women participation in farmer institutions:
• Farmers Study Group (FSG)
• Farmer Producer Companies/Organisations
Access to financial resources: Training women in income generation activities is another important intervention. Farm women are trained in the Fast Track Programme, provided by the Green Colleges on setting up small and medium scale enterprises, linking them with marketing channels, train them as members and directors of FPOs. We support women groups to get linked with financial institutions like NABARD and government schemes. For example, the Green Colleges are actively involving women to generate income from farm-based enterprises like dairy keeping, processing and marketing of non-timber forest products (NTFP’s).

Case studies: We have a handful of exemplary case studies of women farmers from our project sites who are excelling in fields of leadership, entrepreneurship, community mobilization and farming practices as an outcome of our intervention activities. Swaroopa from Andhra Pradesh state is a rural woman who is now a dynamic farmer group leader and facilitator. Gudiya Devi, from Deogarh is another noted achiever with her exceptional self-confidence and communication skills in motivating fellow farmers to go for cultivating vegetables in the region. Gulsheera is an agri-entrepreuner with dairy farming in Karnataka. She attended a course on the same conducted by Green Colleges. As a result, she gained improved technology and became a member in a women Self Help Group (SHG). For complete case studies refer to this link.

Why this initiative deserves prize: GIC project primarily being a project focusing on crop value chains, the results obtained with mainstreaming the gender is commendable. We started with project sites with less than 5% of women participation in project activities up to realizing 35 to 50% of the women involvement today.

Utilization of prize money:
The prize amount of 5000 euros will be utilized for two purposes. Half of the amount will be awarded to 5 women groups from our project sites on a competitive basis. Other half will be used as loan amount which serves as revolving fund within the women groups. Women can borrow loan at a minimal interest rate to accelerate their enterprise and repay it for further circulation within the group. The loan can be used for activities like extending their business, scaling up innovative practices, purchasing new/improved equipments for tomato nursery, setting up processing plants.
Please note: Please check the supporting documents like photos, videos and files stored in the below internal DMS link,
https://dms.giz.de/dms/livelink.exe/link/231129609

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.