1st Edition

Women in Agriculture Breaking the Grass Ceiling

By Ashok Khandelwal, Shipra Deo Copyright 2024

    The lives of women in rural India cannot be visualized without agriculture and allied activities. As per census 2011 figures, four out of five women workers in rural India work as agriculture workers, as owner cultivators or as wage workers.

    This research monograph is about women farmers—women who are engaged primarily in the cultivation of vegetables and fruits and predominantly belong to small and marginal land holdings households. It is the outcome of a baseline survey done in the year 2010-11 in three districts of Uttar Pradesh as part of an action intervention project. Based on the survey findings, it discusses the structural and other factors that promote and perpetuate gender inequality and prevent women from realizing their full potential as farmers; presents the struggles, positive experiences and practices; explores possible interventions at different levels for different stakeholders; and suggests a framework keeping the women's agency/empowerment at center stage while simultaneously enhancing their wellbeing.



    1. Introduction

    2. Women in Agriculture: Status and Issues

    3. Socioeconomic Profiles of Sample Populations

    4. Seclusion of Women: The Means, Process and Implications

    5. Participation of Women in Agricultural Activities

    6. The State and Women Farmers

    7. Summary of Findings and Recommendations

    8. Breaking the Grass Ceilling: Women Farmers Strive for Equity and Dignity


    Annexure A: Key Terminology

    Annexure B: Policy Directions by the National Commission for Women (NCW)

    Annexure C: Important Laws and Government Programmes/Schemes


    Ashok Khandelwal is rights-based social worker and is currently associated with the Right to Food Campaign. He is also working as Rajasthan State Adviser to Supreme Court Commissioners. He studied economics at the University of Rajasthan and was a Fellow at the VV Giri National Labour Institute. In his work span of over 30 years, he has implemented several action research projects with different sets of unorganised workers all over the country to promote collective self-action for development. In the recent past, he has worked on issues related to seasonal migrant labour, child labour and the right to food. His action-research work on Child Labour in Cotton Seed Production has drawn wide attention.

    Shipra Deo is development practitioner for the last 13 years. She has worked in the fields of community organisation, livelihoods promotion, women empowerment, literacy and leadership. She has provided technical assistance to state governments, and national and international organisations in mainstreaming gender equity concerns in their work. She has conducted several studies on issues related to gender and development; and has led programmes aimed at enabling women to seize the available opportunities. Her thematic expertise lies in agriculture development, with a special interest in its gender aspects. She holds a certificate in Community Driven Development, a Master's in Environmental Sciences and an honours degree in Agriculture.