Mumbai, February 8, 2018 – 2030 WRG organized its first Workshop on Gender and Water in Agriculture in the State of Maharashtra to bring to the forefront some relevant work undertaken by key stakeholders promoting women’s participation in water resources management in the agricultural sector.
Given that almost 80% women in rural areas are predominantly engaged in agriculture and allied sectors, there are several civil society and private sector organizations working towards improving women’s participation in agricultural production systems (including efficient use of water resources) which can directly contribute to family income. The workshop saw participation from:
• Government: Project on Climate Resilient Agriculture, Department of Agriculture
• Civil Society: Tata Trusts, Society of Participatory Ecosystem Management (SOPPECOM) and Swayam Shikshan Prayog
• Private Sector: Future Group, Rabo Bank, ITC Limited and Jain Farm Fresh
• Multi-laterals: UNDP and International Finance Corporation
Although women play significant roles as farmers, workers and entrepreneurs, they face severe constraints in accessing productive resources (including water) compared to men. Thus, emphasizing women’s role in agribusiness, Eika Banerjee, CEO of Future Learning (Future Group) indicated, “the need to shift women’s role in agriculture from a development perspective to a market-driven solutions perspective.” Seema Kulkarni, Secretary, SOPPECOM pointed out, “women should not be silent participants but should have a voice in decision making as a part of village-level committees.”
The Workshop was a passionate call from partners to mainstream women in agriculture through collaborative and collective action. Some of the key recommendations included:
• Improving availability and access of data on women farmers (example – lack of data availability on women farmers who are also landowners),
• Developing knowledge products that can support better implementation of government policies,
• Promoting public-private partnership models in agriculture value chains that can improve market linkages for women farmers
• Enabling ecosystem changes i.e. providing a conducive environment for women to participate in the agricultural sector.
The participants at the Workshop agreed on taking the gender and water agenda forward through a formalized process to be anchored by the Government of Maharashtra. The Workshop is a part of the Maharashtra Water Multi-Stakeholder Platform and cuts across two workstreams related to agriculture – Water and Livelihood Security in Rain-fed Agricultural Areas and Command Area Water Productivity.