Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 20
With fiery speeches on “Farmers’ Struggle and Earth Democracy”, the first national convention of the Punjab Women Collective, comprising 11 organisations, paid a befitting tribute to women martyrs in farmers’ struggle, at Punjab Kala Bhawan, Sector 16, here, today.
Environmental activists Dr Vandana Shiva and Medha Patkar, along with writer-activist Dr Navsharan Kaur, were the key speakers of the event, while Devi Kumari, Jasbir Kaur Nat and Paramjit Longowal elaborated on “women leading the struggle from zero”.
At the convection, Vandana Shiva, who is often referred to as “Gandhi of grain” for her activism on anti-GMO movement, while talking to The Tribune, said: “Green revolution ‘chemicalised’ Punjab. The state must do agriculture as Guru Nanak would have liked. Organic is not a luxury, it’s our duty. Half of India cannot pay for its food. So, half of India should be supported by public distribution system (PDS). It should be the national langar. The attack on the PDS by the World Bank was intense. Globalisation of agriculture and agricultural revolution don’t go together.”
Stating her UN report and books on women in agriculture, Shiva said: “The politics of gender divide is closely linked with the politics and economics of poison agriculture.”
Medha Patkar, who is the founder of the Narmada Bachao Aandolan in three Indian states, assured the audience that the sacrifice of those who died during the farmers’ protest will not go in vain.
“Over 600 people died protesting against the three laws. But I have been able to see how the crowds came together and stood united against the laws. This protest brought people of all religions and castes together. It was at the farmers’ mahapanchayat in UP where slogans of Hindu-Muslim brotherhood were raised from one stage. It was in this movement where guru ka langar broke all social barriers and everyone ate together,” she said.
Dr Navsharan Kaur, a human rights practitioner, who has written books and researched on agriculture for 10 years now, said: “The plight of women has often been ignored. One refers to farmers as ‘kisan bhaiyo, not kisan behno’. It’s important to understand that women with land and landless women face agrarian crisis differently. About 80 per cent land in Punjab is under wheat and paddy, which is fairly mechanised. Women have been replaced by machines, but at the same time, they haven’t been given any alternative employment too. The villages are often disconnected and safety is an important issue. This makes farming a tough field for women. Yet, the women kept this protest going strong. They even had a woman panchayat. We have come a long way.”
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