Sattva Consulting
Enabling Gender Equity on the Cotton Farm
June 18, 2021

Enabling Gender Equity on the Cotton Farm

Gender sensitisation training modules for farmers and farming communities in India


India is the largest cotton producing country in the world (26% of the world’s produce); with Gujarat and Maharashtra as the largest producer states contributing more than 50% of the country’s total produce. Presently, nearly 60 million people in India depend on cotton cultivation for their livelihoods. The textile industry, which consumes cotton as a principal raw material, contributes to nearly 4% of India’s GDP.

Women are key stakeholders, as they comprise the largest percentage of the workforce in cotton cultivation. According to the International Trade Center, women cotton farmers account for 70% of the labour in sowing and 90% of the labour in cotton picking in India. Given the criticality of the production-related tasks that women perform, women farmers directly impact the quantity and quality of cotton produced. However, gender-blind approaches in agricultural programmes have often overlooked the specific needs and opportunities for women farmers.

Building an agricultural ecosystem that is inclusive of women farmers and co-farmers is poised to:

1. Drive gender equality for women farmers / cultivators
2. Contribute to improving outcomes on the farm in the form of improved quality and quantity of cotton and thereby, improved incomes for cotton producing households.

Unlocking social and economic gains in cotton cultivation through gender-aware programs is a twofold journey. On the one hand, this includes equipping women co-farmers with improved agronomic knowledge and practices and strengthening their access to extension services. On the other hand, it is important to complement these efforts with sensitising rural communities on the role and contributions of women co-farmers in the field.

About the Toolkit

This gender sensitisation toolkit, developed by Sattva Consulting for IDH and BCI, seeks to provide an approach for organisations and / or trainers working closely with farming communities or those implementing agricultural programmes. The manual is aimed to support trainers in their capacity building efforts to equip farmers and the wider farming community with the awareness and knowledge required to make cotton production inclusive for women farmers and co-farmers. The manual is designed to be flexible and adaptable for use in different situations, depending on factors such as the trainers’ own skills and experience, time available, the participants, as well as resources available.

The power of this manual lies in the universality of its application. This resource may be used across India and parts of Asia where similar gender dynamics may be found within farming communities. This manual will also serve as a reference for gender and social experts seeking to make agricultural practices on the farm more gender equitable.

The full toolkit can be accessed below.

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