Women in Rural India

In rural India, the Indian population is 48.1% women and 51.9% men and female illiteracy is 62% whereas the male illiteracy rate is 34%. The labour force participation rate of women is 22.7%, less than half of the men’s rate of 51.6%.In rural India, agriculture and allied industrial sectors employ as much as 89.5% of the total female labour.Women have extensive work loads with dual responsibility for farm and household production.Women’s work is getting harder and more time-consuming due to ecological degradation and changing agricultural technologies and practices.Women have an active role and extensive involvement in livestock production, forest resource use and fishery processing.Women spend up to six hours a day bringing water from distant sources to their homes.

Women contribute considerably to household income through farm and nonfarm activities as well as through work as landless agricultural labourers.Women’s work as family labour is underestimated.There are high degrees of inter-state and intra-state variations in gender roles in agriculture, environment and rural production.

Indian women are extensively involved in agricultural activities.The mode of female participation in agricultural production varies with the land-owning status of farm households.In overall farm production, women’s average contribution is estimated at 55% to 66% of the total labour. Rural Indian women’s interface with the forests is varying – gathering, wage employment, production in farm forestry and management of afforested areas in the community plantation.Nature and extent of women’s participation in fishery varies across the states.Fish drying/curing, marketing, and handbraiding and net-mending are the main areas of women’s involvement in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.

In rural areas, women make basket, broom, rope making, tasar silk cocoon rearing, lac cultivation, oil extraction, and bamboo works, etc.Women constitute 51% of the total employed in forest-based small-scale enterprises.

Women who receive training at the Institute are encouraged to return to their communities and share what they have learned, whether reading and writing, health and hygiene techniques, or, even, how to make better decisions as a group.

Issues of rural poverty and health have traditionally been the concern of governments. In the past, and even today, most programs designed to benefit rural India are funded and managed exclusively by the government.

Now a days,the internet is beginning to have a revolutionary effect on the 700 million people who live in villages in India – and the charge is being led by women. A project set up by one of India’s leading technology institutes has put women in charge of forging the way across the digital divide as the proprietors of a fast-growing number of internet cafes or kiosks around the sub-continent.In total 80% of these new kiosks are run by women,many of whom have had very little or no acquaintance with technology before.