Message from Women’s Movement to Farmers
Today women and men in the farmers’ struggle are standing shoulder to shoulder at the Delhi borders. This movement is a symbol in the history of India—a symbol of freedom, of voices, of ideas, of protests, of slogans, of resolutions. This is not just a farmers’ struggle; it is a joint campaign of all of us, of children, women and men. Each morsel that we eat is proof of your hard work.
The manner in which you are all standing fearlessly against the three draconian anti-farm laws in the face of the government’s repressive policies, terrorizing attacks and the cruelty of those holding power is beyond comparison.
You have shown that the government cannot inflict policies and laws on farmers through force, water cannons and lathis. Indeed, it is the fundamental right of every citizen to oppose any policy that does not have the participation of women and men farmers.
Your struggle has filled the workers, farmers and common people of the country with a surge of hope. We stand with you in support and solidarity for the victory of your movement.
Each and every person in this country is alive due to the hard work of farmers. Farmer brothers and sisters grow food for the entire country and are a large part of India’s population, but despite this their lives are full of pain and troubles. Every year lakhs of farmers are forced to commit suicide due to inclement weather, crop loss and inability to repay loans because the government, which is responsible for these deaths, makes election promises of loan waivers for farmers but never fulfills any of these promises.
Over the past years farmers have agitated to demand at least a one-time loan waiver announcement and MSP of 1 ½ times crop input price as per Swaminathan Commission recommendations. Instead of agreeing to these demands the Modi government has imposed these three draconian laws on farmers. These laws are equal to the last nail in the coffin for the already oppressed farmers. They will make farmers slaves of corporate national and international companies. The companies will decide what crops should be sown, what the prices for the crops should be, and all other decisions keeping in view maximum profits for themselves and depriving farmers of all rights. Ending the Mandi system is a huge conspiracy to this end. Even if Mandis remain as a token there will be no purchase of crops at MSP; instead, companies will bypass the Mandis and buy the crops at cheap rates. In the competition between rich and powerful companies and the farmers, clearly the loser will be the farmers. Moreover, rice, wheat, potatoes, onions etc have been removed from the list of essential goods so that companies can hoard these goods and inflate their prices in the market. As a result, farmers will get lower prices for their crops and the customer (common citizen) will have to buy essential food items at exorbitant prices.
When we say ‘farmer’ we most often think of men who are farmers. But half the farmer population is made up of women farmers. It is our belief that women farmers are the pillar of farming traditions and agrarian economic autonomy.
85% of rural women work in agriculture, but women own only 12-15% of cultivable land.
In case of suicide by a male farmer, the process of transferring the land to his wife’s name is a very difficult one. 29% of suicide-victim farmers’ wives are unsuccessful in transferring their husband’s land to their names, and 65% of women farmers are unsuccessful even in transferring the family home to their names.
Women farmers face great difficulty in availing themselves of farm loans, loan waivers, and government help in electricity, fertilizers, seeds etc.
In this situation, the three anti-farm laws will be an even greater disaster for women farmers than for men farmers.
In a democracy governments should respect every movement, speak to the people concerned, and correct its policies and governance system; otherwise, it is not a democracy but an autocracy. Today we see the Modi government and ruling party BJP leaders and supporters are branding protesters anti-government and anti-national and throwing them into jail. The whole country has condemned actor Kangana Ranaut for insulting Bilkis Dadi of Shaheen Bagh and Mahinder Kaur Dadi of the farmers’ struggle by saying that they are ‘available for Rs 100’. The truth is that such insults are not something new.
If students protest anywhere in the country, it has been seen in the past few years that they are branded ‘anti-national’ and ‘Tukde Tukde Gang’ by BJP leaders and the Godi Media; women students have been called ‘worse than prostitutes’ ‘shameless sluts’ etc.
Women led the movement against CAA Act which is an attack on equal citizenship as given by the Constitution of India. Just as Sikh farmers are on the frontlines of the farmers’ struggle, Muslim women were on the frontlines of the equal citizenship movement and they established ‘Shaheen Bagh’ dharna spots across the country, where people pledged to save the Constitution. Those protesting women were insulted by the BJP as ‘available for sale’, ‘anti-national’, ‘Tukde Tukde Gang’ and ‘rioters’.
Instead of arresting the real rioters—the riot-inciting BJP leaders—the Delhi police arrested students, both men and women. The women students who were arrested—like Safoora Zargar who was pregnant, Natasha, Devangana and Gulfisha—were insulted in vile terms and rapist language. False propaganda was spread about the anti-CAA movement and peaceful dharnas were branded as ‘anti-national activity’ and the leaders of the movement are being arrested under UAPA.
Today, similarly, farmers are facing lies, false propaganda and insults. They are being branded ‘Khalistani terrorists’, ‘Tukde Tukde Gang’ and ‘available for Rs 100’.
The Sikh brothers and sisters who used to prepare Langar and feed protesters in Shaheen Bagh are today organizing Langars for farmers, and the government and media are insulting them by calling them ‘terrorists’.
The women students, agitating women of Shaheen Bagh, and women farmers—who bear the biggest brunt of this campaign of lies and false propaganda—are standing together and fighting together today and saying, “We are brothers and sisters, we are the people of India; you cannot divide us in the name of hate, in the name of Hindu-Muslim-Sikh-Christian. We stand in solidarity with each other. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us”.
Farmers have called for a Bharat Bandh on 8 December against the three draconian anti-farm laws. The women’s movement is part of this in full strength.
The CAA Act was passed on 11 December 2011. This year on 11 December the demand for repeal of CAA will be reiterated across the country and the demand will be made for the release of anti-CAA activists who stood up to save the Constitution. We are confident that the farmers’ movement will also raise the demand for the repeal of CAA.
The entire country will stand with farmers against the anti-farm laws. The women’s movement gives full support to the farmers’ movement and the demand for the repeal of the three anti-farm laws. We demand that talks are held with our farmer sisters and brothers unconditionally and without any pressure and all their just demands are met fully.
The entire women’s movement stands in solidarity with our brave farmer sisters and brothers in their struggle.
Bole So Nihal
These farmers are winning hearts everywhere
Speaking straight and true
As if talking to their near and dear in their own homes
Distributing ‘prasad’ to all with a smile
And tasting it themselves too
It’s as if they surround Delhi, the nation’s stricken heart,
Intent on healing it
They offer water to the police in reply to ‘water cannons’
They turn their backs on government delicacies,
Taking out rotis from their own backpacks
They burn false newspapers
No wonder Bilkis Dadi came to meet them,
They are building a city of love