Women farmers bear triple burden of rural poverty, landlessness, and rights violations

On the occasion of the International Working Women’s Day, progressive farmers’ group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said millions of women farmers in the country suffer the triple burden of poverty, landlessness, and human rights violations.

“Women farmers are the face and living proof of rural poverty. As long as landlessness persists, women farmers will not be freed from the shackles of poverty enslaving them,” says KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos.

Although a significant part of the women population in the countryside take part in agriculture production, they are often reduced as ‘mere statistics’ of unpaid family workers, and unemployed,” Ramos said.

“The dire situation of women farmers is worsened by prevailing rural poverty, landlessness and other exploitative conditions including high land rent, expensive cost of production, lack of government support and subsidy to production, low farm gate prices of crops, and lack of access to basic social services like healthcare and education. Rural women also suffer from sexual discrimination, and rampant sexual abuse,” the KMP leader said.

“Worse, the worst kind of human rights abuses happen in rural areas as a result of militarization. At least 34 peasant women were killed under the Duterte administration. Rural women are subjected to the daily norm of state-sponsored human rights violations,” Ramos added.

Ramos noted that based on government data, in end 2018, the employment losses in agriculture which accounts for the second largest share in total employment at 22.1 percent, lost an estimated 1.711 million workers. Most of the employment losses are due to the 19.1 percent decline in production. “The situation now is far worse if we take into account the effects of the rice liberalization law which rendered a whooping 34.5 percent unemployment in the agriculture sector.”

Based on estimates by the National Federation of Peasant Women or AMIHAN, five out of 10 women working in agriculture are unpaid family workers, including children working in farms and plantations. Women farm workers also receive 15 percent lower wages compared to their male counterparts despite the heavy workload in farms and plantations.

“Only a genuine agrarian reform and rural development can help alleviate the plight of rural women and women farmers,” Ramos said. #

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