Role of Women in Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (Download PDF)

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  • Crop planning and cultivation.
  • As per the estimates the agricultural sector employs about 4 ⁄ 5th of all economically active.
  • High value activities:
    • Horticulture
    • Primary food processing
    • Livestock
    • Rearing
    • Fisheries and cottage industries
  • Marginalised and disadvantaged in:
    • Wages
    • Land rights
    • Representation in group activities
  • Agriculture contributes to 15.5 % GDP.
  • The average land holdings with women farmers is 0.9 ha while the highest is of 2.84 ha in Nagaland.
  • The percentage of female engaged in agriculture has been sizeable at 54.6 % in 2019 against 39.5 % of male.

Financial Inclusion and Rural Women

  • Agriculture is an engine of growth and poverty reduction in rural areas.
  • Main occupation of the poor.
  • Women՚s participation in wages/salaried activities was dismally low.
  • The total rural women mobilised into Self-Help Groups stood at 6.47 crore by December 2019.
  • As per NABARD:
    • Close to 60 % of women members participated in the survey were attending to domestic duties and not engaged in any economic activity.
    • One-fourth of the males were either self-employed including farmers.
    • Only one twentieth (4.8 %) of women respondent were self-employed.
    • 16 % men and 12.3 % women attend educational institutions as an economic activity.
Percent Male and Female Involved in
EmploymentMale (%)Female (%)
Farmers and other self-employed27.84.8
Working as casual labour

in Public Works (other than MGNREGA)

Participating in Educational


Salaried (regular and/or

wage employees)

Wage labour-MGNREGA1.52.2
Other works - wage labour5.71.9
Domestic duties only3.659.4


Unpaid family worker1.72.4
Not worked but seeking/

available for work

Engaged in other miscellaneous activities2.54.5

Role of Financial Institutions

  • Need to reach out to SHGs for financial empowerment.
  • Only 77.3 % SHGs were linked with the banks on all India basis.
  • Statewise tally:
    • Bihar (37.8 %)
    • Jharkhand (47.2 %)
    • UP (72.7 %)
    • Chhattisgarh (77.2 %)
    • Rajasthan (18.8 %)

Learning from the States

  • An investment of over $ 3 billion has been made by World Bank during last 15 years through state governments to empower women and Self-Help Groups in rural areas.
  • Provided an opportunity to over 45 million poor rural women to have access to skills, markets and business development services.
  • Increase in the incomes of women members in the family has increased the access to food and finance.

Skill Development

Low skilling commensurate with the job profiles of a particular company or agency.

Skill India Mission:

  • Launched on 15th July 2015.
  • In 2014, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship was created.
  • Aims to train a minimum of 300 million skilled people by the year 2022.
  • Only 25 million had been trained under this scheme by the end of 2018.
  • Needs to map such requirement and design tailor made hands-on training modules for imparting skills to the willing women workers relevant to the prospective employers.
  • Program needs to be calibrated in a way to sensitive to the needs of women workforce:
    • Providing safe transport
    • Flexible schedules
    • Childcare support
  • Various models like women mesons in Jharkhand, Krishi Ashland Pasu Sakhi under NRLM and World Bank model for supporting adolescent girls in Jharkhand Government for the completion of secondary education and providing mentoring services to succeed in the job market should be suitably upscaled.
  • Providing dedicated girls hostels in Rajasthan and elsewhere should also be augmented.

Social and Behavioural Change

  • Women tend to drop out in response to family pressures even after completing the skill
    • Programmes and consequently getting jobs.
  • As far as women workforce participation is concerned, India ranked 120th among 131 countries on a global landscape.
  • Developmental efforts need to be suitably complemented by changing:
    • Social norms
    • Around marriages
    • Work and household duties
  • Availability of safe hostel facilities for their stay have encouraged their parents to allow them to work and stay away from home.
  • In Tamil Nadu, safe working environment has been able to encourage women to work in garment manufacturing, far from their village and homes.
  • Far reaching impact on women empowerment:
    • Skills development
    • Subsidized loans for businesses led by women
    • Recent legislation doubling maternity leave
    • Childcare facilities in companies that employ more than 50 people

Needs to be Done

  • GDP growth in India can be boosted by 1.5 % points to achieve 9 % growth per annum by facilitating 50 % of women joining the workforce in the country.
  • Several social, cultural and institutional impediments have to be overhauled and removed.
  • Time to revisit and reform outdated legislation and policies that act as deterrents to women entering or staying in the labour market.

- Published/Last Modified on: October 6, 2020

Agriculture/Agro Industries, Govt. Schemes/Projects, Kurukshetra

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