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Women Get Half Wages Despite Laboring Hard

Women farm workers in rural Maharashtra, India labor as hard as men do, but are paid half of what men are

Women farm workers in rural India labor as hard as men do, but are paid half of what men are. A video by Rohini Pawar - a community correspondent for Video Volunteers' IndiaUnheard program captures images of this discrimination in Maharashtra, India

Since she joined IndiaUnheard as a community correspondent in May’2010, Rohini Pawar, a woman who forced to drop out of school at 16 to be married off, has been bringing us untold stories of problems that women in her community face everyday. She has, through her videos, highlighted issues such as plight of Devadasi/temple slaves, cruel rituals forced on women, ostracizing of women with HIV/AIDS and leprosy, and restriction on women’s movement etc.

In her latest video Rohini highlights the denial of full wages to women in her village by their employers. According to her, women are paid only half of what men get are, despite working just as hard. She explores how this discrimination cause women to live in extreme poverty.

Walhe – the village of Indian state of Maharasrhta where Rohini lives, is known for its onion production. All these onion fields are owned by ‘higher’ caste villagers who do not farm themselves. So, every season between the months of June and August, the landowners employ 10-12 people in their fields to plow, sow and harvest onions. Over 50% of these workers are poor and landless women for whom there are no other livelihood alternatives.

The women interviewed in Rohini’s video are married, have young children and are the sole bread earners in their family as their husbands are alcoholics spend whatever they earn on their drinks. In the onion farms the women’s work includes weeding, seeding and watering – jobs that are tedious and require them to be bent over in the field for hours. As a result most end up with health problems such as acute backache. Also, most develop skin infections due to working barefoot in the wet fields.

Male workers, on the other hand, plow and irrigate the fields. These are considered ‘harder’ jobs than what women do. So, though men and women both work from 8 hours everyday, men are paid about Rs 120 while women get Rs 50. This is not only less than half of what men get, but is also far less than the legal daily wage for a rural workers, which is Rs 80 to 100

Rohini’s own family works in the farm and during the harvest and sowing season Rohini also works alongside her family members. So, she knows first hand the physical effort that a woman has to put in.

Since farming is done in monsoon, women work in pouring rain – a reason why most of them develop skin infection on their toes. But few can afford to see a doctor as what they are paid is not enough to buy their daily meals.

Rohini’s decision to highlight this discrepancy has a reason: The discrimination is fast becoming a standard norm in villages, taking deep roots. Not only male employers are saving half of their money by denying women their wages, but are managing to make everyone believe that women’s work isn’t worth full wages. Rohini wants this discrimination to stop, so that women get the wages they toil for.

You can watch this video and other videos by Rohini by clicking here -

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