Gender discrimination is one of the biggest challenges of workplace equality in the Indian agriculture sector. Considering women’s contribution to the sector and their relatively limited participation in decision making, IDH organized a gender awareness program for its Implementing Partners (IPs) in India in Better Cotton Growth & Innovation Fund, Sustainable Spices Initiative – India and Sustainable Grapes Initiative programs.
IDH Gender Consultant, Sangita Shete, conducted the gender sensitization trainings with 19 IPs in 30 locations across India. The trainings focused around 2000 field-level workers who provide extension service to over 1 million cotton, spice and grape farmers.
Despite the crucial role women play in agriculture in India, they are generally paid less than their male co-workers. Rural women, who work on smallholder farms, often provide substantial labor as ‘unpaid’ family labor or low-paid day labor. Women regularly complete some of the most arduous tasks, with over-representation in manual work such as picking and weeding. They also face a greater risk of harassment and are less likely to be considered for benefits and opportunities. They face significant difficulties in gaining access to credit, and their views may be overlooked in decision-making, because of entrenched gender bias in farming families.
These challenges present an opportunity for IDH to make a difference at the field level in promoting gender equality within its programs. In the gender sensitization training, the field extension workers are made aware of mainstreaming gender equality in their work, labor division based on gender, access to resources, decision making, gender awareness in project activities, and project planning for gender inclusion.
As the next step, IDH will conduct a gender analysis in its programs in India and prepare an outreach plan to enable the project planners to design and implement gender sensitive projects. Last year, IDH launched a gender toolkit to operationalizing solutions to achieve gender equality and empowerment. Developing our focus on gender is necessary when working in global supply chains that frequently rely on women’s labor while structurally disadvantaging them. We believe that applying a gender lens will multiply impact through more cost- efficient interventions, higher adoption rates of trainings, improved workers satisfaction and better family incomes.
In the cotton sector, IDH provides funding support through the Better Cotton Growth & Innovation Fund (GIF) to 15 IPs who work with 553,203 farmers in India. During the 2017-18 season, GIF has engaged with 21,226 women farmers and almost 91,000 women workers, which is expected to double during the 2018-19 season.
In the spices sector in India, IDH has established the Sustainable Spices Initiative – India to drive sustainable sourcing in the Indian spice industry. In 2017-18, SSI-I funded eight IPs who worked with 20,000 farmers, including 1,440 women farmers.