425.2 In the forefront and yet marginal: Women in the farmers' movement in Gujarat, India

Friday, August 3, 2012: 9:15 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Manisha DESAI , Sociology and Women's Studies, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Women have been at the forefront of the most active and successful farmers' movement, the Mahuva movement, today in the state of Guajrat, India.  The movement mobilized thousands of local farmers against the construction of a cement factory in the midst of a reservoir they had built to stem the increasing salinity on their coastal lands.  From the first public hearing against the factory, to raising awareness in the surrounding villages for over a year, to walking 350 Kilometers in a protest rally, to beaing beaten up by the so called security guards of the factory owners, they have participated actively in the movement to protect their lands.  Yet, beyond their symbolic presence in delegations to meet with the government or address rallies, they are no where to be seen in either the leadership or planning and strategizing.  Rather, they were reduced to cooking meals in the latest bicycle rally undertaken by the movement.  What explains this simultaneous visibility and marginalization? What has been the role of gender mainstreaming and sustainable development discourses in creating such contradictory realities?  What are the consequneces and the way forward? These are some of the questions that I will address in this paper.