Women farmers protesting against the Centre’s three agricultural laws at Delhi’s borders for over three months have featured on the international cover of Time magazine’s March edition. The magazine tweeted the cover story on Friday, a day before the protest enters its 100th day.
“This law will kill us, will destroy what little we have,” Amandeep Kaur, a farmer from Talwandi in Punjab, told the magazine. Punjab Kisan Union member Jasbir Kaur Nat, who is mobilising farmers at the Tikri protest site, said women are often not seen as farmers. “Their labor is immense but invisible. Women are changing women here. They are claiming their identities as farmers,” she added.
Some of the protesting women farmers told the magazine that their numbers increased after Chief Justice of India SA Bobde in January asked lawyers to convince the elderly people and women to go back home. “Something snapped within us when we heard the government tell the women to go back home,” 74-year-old Jasbir Kaur from Rampur in western Uttar Pradesh told Time. “Why should we go back? This is not just the men’s protest. We toil in the fields alongside the men. Who are we – if not farmers?”
Women’s rights activist Sudesh Goyat also recalled that she was the only woman from Haryana during the first few days of protests in Tikri. But after the court’s comments, more and more women joined. “They came with their families,” she told Time. “They came with other women. They came alone. It’s no less than a miracle.”
Tens of thousands of farmers have been camped outside Delhi for over three months, demanding the withdrawal of the three legislations that they say will hurt them and benefit large corporations.
The farmers believe that the new laws undermine their livelihood and open the path for the corporate sector to dominate the agricultural sector. The government, on the other hand, maintains that the new laws will give farmers more options in selling their produce, lead to better pricing, and free them from unfair monopolies. The laws are meant to overhaul antiquated procurement procedures and open up the market, the government has claimed.
In January, the Supreme Court had suspended the implementation of the laws until further orders.
The talks between farmers and the Centre have been in the state of stalemate since the eleventh round of meeting on January 22. In that meeting, the Centre had asked the farmer bodies to consider its proposal on the temporary suspension of the implementation of the farm laws. Prior to that, on January 20, the farmers rejected the Centre’s proposal to suspend implementation of the three agricultural laws for 1.5 years, and stuck to their demand of repealing the laws.