ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Women’s Farm Employment, Decision-making and Sources of Irrigation

Insights from Uttar Pradesh

Irrigation is one of the chief determinants of crop yields and sustainable agriculture. However, two surveys conducted among farmers and women in two regions of Uttar Pradesh highlight how irrigation sources impact women’s lives. The results reveal that the expansion of less important/used irrigation sources and water purchase have a positive impact on women’s participation in economic activities and empowerment. Thus, policies can be designed to improve the lesser-used irrigation sources, which, in turn, can contribute to women’s empowerment.

This study was financially supported by the International Water Management Institute, Colombo, under the grant titled “Restoring the Ganges: Healthier Rivers for Safer Water and More Productive Agro-ecosystems.”

The author is grateful to Mukul Kumar for his support and advice. The author is also grateful to the anonymous reviewer for comments and suggestions.

The exclusion of women in the context of rights over natural resources, including land and water, persists across the globe, especially in developing countries (Coles 2020; Njuki et al 2014; Zwarteveen 2008; Gunchinmaa et al 2011). Women’s exclusion leads to loss of control over natural resources, and hence, disempowerment. Does access to natural resources benefit women, espe­cially in the context of employment and decision-making abilities? The question is relevant in the context of implications on empowerment. The article attempts to answer this by compa­ring the impact of irrigation on women’s agency, measured by women’s work­force participation and role in decision-making across two regions sharing a similar agroecological structure, yet diff­e­renti­ated by the importance of irrigation systems.

The two regions under consideration include the upper canal area (UCA) and lower canal area (LCA) of the Upper Gangetic Plains region (an agroclimatic zone) or upper Ganga region of Uttar Pradesh (UP). UCA corresponds to the western part of the Ganga canal in UP, while LCA represents the eastern part of the Ganga ­canal (Figure 1). While the availability of ­canal irrigation water is higher in UCA, the intensity of irrigated cropping thro­ugh groundwater is higher in LCA. Hence, the two regions differ with reg­ard to irrigation systems. The article compares and contrasts women’s agency between the two regions with irri­gation systems that are different.

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Updated On : 23rd Jan, 2023
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