18 January: Women Farmers’ Day
The Chief Justice of India had asked why women had been “kept” in the farmers’ protests at the border, and had sought reassurances from farmers’ legal representatives that women would be sent back home and kept out of the protests. He had even said he would personally take the “risk” of appealing to women to return home.
Well, women gave a befitting rebuff to this paternalistic attempt to control them and insult their autonomy. On 18 January 2021, they flocked to the protest sites at Delhi’s borders to observe Mahila Kisan Diwas (Women Farmers Day) and remind the CJI and everyone else that most women in India are farmers or farm workers; half the farming population is female; and he major share of farm labourers are women. Women raised placards and slogans in various languages asserting that “Women’s place is in the resistance” – a rebuff to the patriarchal adage that “women’s place is in the home.”
Thousands of women protested at the Delhi borders against the Modi government and burnt effigies of IMF and WTO. Women from Punjab, Haryana, Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand participated in the protests. All over the country also, Women Farmers’ Day was observed by AIPWA and other women’s movement groups.
The rally on Mahila Kisan Diwas at the Tikri border was addressed by Punjab Kisan Union leader Jasbir Kaur Natt, AIPWA General Secretary Meena Tiwari, AIPWA Vice President Sudha Chaudhury (Rajasthan), AISA leader Geeta Kumari (Haryana), trade union leader and AIPWA activist Comrade Lekha Adavi (Karnataka), renowned Punjabi theatre and film artist Anita Shabdish and Lokayat leaders from Karnataka. Several of the AIPWA leaders also sat on a 24-hour hunger strike at the Tikri dharna site.
Addressing the gathering, Comrade Meena Tiwari said that when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave well-meant advice to the Modi government to consider the farmers' demands the Modi government rubbished the it as interference in internal policy matters but when IMF spokesman openly supported these draconian anti-farm laws as very useful, the Modi government was delighted. Today by burning the IMF-WTO effigy we the women farmers of India send out a message to IMF, WTO, World Bank and other such puppet organizations of multinational corporates that if they do not stop interfering in India's internal and policy matters we can take the decision to gherao the offices of these organizations just as we have gheraoed the offices of Ambani-Adani.
At the Ghazipur border, AIPWA’s UP President Krishna Adhikari addressed the women farmers’ gathering, and warned against the communal politics of the Yogi and Modi Governments that sought to divide farmers and people on Hindu-Muslim lines so that the companies like Adani and Ambani can rule.
At the Singhu border, AIPWA National Secretary Kavita Krishnan and AISA activist Navkiran Natt addressed the gathering. Women workers from unorganised colonies and slums of Delhi held a march under the AIPWA banner in support of the farmers’ movement. They stressed that if the farm laws are implemented, farming will go into corporate control, government procurement of grains will stop, and that means that food rations also will be scrapped. To save farming and save rations, and demand MSP for all crops and rations for all people, workers must support farmers.
The protesting women warned that if the Modi government does not shed its ego and obstinacy and fails to repeal these ro-corporate black laws soon, there will not only be a Tractor Parade on 26 January on Republic Day but lakhs of women across the country will also launch a campaign to expose BJP-RSS in every city, town, village, mohalla and house.
At Kolkata, a massive dharna of women was organised at Dharamtala by the farmers’ struggle platform AIKSCC, to which AIPWA contributed a large contingent.
At Patna, women’s groups together held a march against the farm laws.