Karnataka Women making inroads into the Farmers’ Movement

Women members of Karnataka Rajya Raita Sangha (KRRS) are increasingly coming to the forefront of the farmers’ movement in the State.

KRRS women are coming to the forefront of the farmer’s movement. “We don’t want a ‘women’s wing’, or a ‘women’s section’ inside KRRS. Such so called ‘wings’ become nothing more than a group upon which women’s issues are piled upon; ignored for all other decisions. We want equal participation in the state committee leadership, it is the only way. We already have many strong women leaders and thousands of women in the grassroots, it’s time to make it official”, paraphrased Chukki Nanjundaswamy from the proceedings of women’s meeting in Bangalore on 15 October.

Women leaders turned up from 17 of 25 districts of Karnataka. “We sent out a call to action, but were shocked to see so many who have already attained leadership positions in their districts, eager to lead the movement, and others that have future potential,” said Nandini of Mandya district. It’s the first time in its thirty five years that KRRS has so many women at the official state level leadership. Earlier there were just two token positions at the state level, the recent meeting demonstrated otherwise.

Kavitha, a young widow of a farmer who committed suicide in Hassan, said “In a superstitious society like ours, a widow like me is seen as a curse, she is avoided, left alone, no one wants me around. When KRRS called and asked me to take a lead, I was touched; they are my sisters and brothers.” It was through KRRS actions that Kavitha and others received government compensation for the farmer suicides in their families.  

“The government ignored us, didn’t give us the little that was rightfully ours. We waited for months at the state offices. Only when KRRS came, were they forced to react, and paid us in one week. I want to fight for other women like me, and for the farming community,” she said.