Women farm workers in rural India labour hard, but are paid only half of what men are. This video captures the bias in Maharashtra state
Since she joined IndiaUnheard as a community correspondent in May’2010, Rohini Pawar – our correspondent in Maharashtra state – has been bringing us untold stories of problems that women in her community face everyday. She has, through her videos, highlighted issues such as plight of Devadasi/temple slaves, cruel rituals forced on women, ostracizing of women with HIV/AIDS and leprosy, and restriction on women’s movement etc. To watch these videos and also know more about Rohini’s personal profile, click here.
In this video Rohini highlights the denial of full wages to women in her village by their employers. According to her, women are paid only half of what men are, despite working just as hard. She explores how this discrimination cause women to live in extreme poverty.
Walhe – the village of Maharashtra where Rohini lives, is known for its onion production. All these onion fields are owned by ‘higher’ caste villagers who do not farm themselves. So, every season between the months of June and August, the landowners employ 10-12 people in their fields to plow, sow and harvest onions. Over 50% of these workers are poor and landless women for whom there are no other livelihood alternatives.
The women interviewed in Rohini’s video are married, have young children and are the sole bread earners in their family as their husbands are alcoholics spend whatever they earn on their drinks. In the onion farms the women’s work include
Male workers, on the other hand, plow and irrigate the fields. These are considered ‘harder’ jobs than what women do. So, though men and women both work from 8 hours everyday, men are paid about Rs 125 while women get Rs 50. This is not only less than half of what men get, but is also far less than the legal daily wage for rural workers, which is Rs 80 to 100.
Rohini’s own family works in the farm and during the harvest and sowing season Rohini also works alongside her family members. So, she knows first hand the physical effort that a woman has to put in.
Since farming is done in monsoon, women work in pouring rain – a reason why most of them develop skin infection on their toes. But few can afford to see a doctor as what they are paid is not enough to buy their daily meals.
Rohini’s decision to highlight this discrepancy has a reason: The discrimination is fast becoming a standard norm in villages, taking deep roots. Not only male employers are saving half their money by denying women their wages, but are managing to make everyone believe that women’s work isn’t worth full wages. Rohini wants this discrimination to stop, so that women get the wages they toil for.
IndiaUnheard Community correspondents are documenting gender issues all across the country. If you are working on women’s rights, click here to get more information related to your area of study.