After the Dadis of Shaheen Bagh, Watch Out for the Fiery Women Farmers of Punjab


After the Dadis of Shaheen Bagh, Watch Out for the Fiery Women Farmers of Punjab

Illustration: Arati Gujar

There’s no stopping the farmers even as the nights get chillier and the lathis don’t drop.  Their protest against the government over the new farm laws has entered Day 7. The last few days, we’ve been flooded with images from the agitation – an old Sikh facing the police baton, a young man climbing on a truck to turn off a water cannon, and thousands of others camping on the highways. But the women aren’t far away from the scene – they are right behind the men.

Nearly 15,000 women farmer protesters, including the elderly from across Punjab and Haryana have assembled alongside their male counterparts on the outskirts of Delhi to take on the Centre. “Women are giving their immense support to the ongoing agitation against the farm laws,” Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) leader Harinder Kaur Bindu informed IndiaTimes.

Hundreds have settled at the Tikri border in Haryana near West Delhi, delivering fiery speeches. “Many women are good speakers and they share their opinions on the recently passed farm laws by the Centre,” Bindu added.

When they are not up on the stage and voicing their support for the revolution, the women take on the responsibility to cook food and wash clothes at the protest site itself. Temporary kitchens have been set up, ones that don’t just provide for their families but also offer meals to the policemen and journalists on duty.

The mother and grandmothers on strike come with children in tow. Some have carried books to ensure that their education does not suffer.

But being a woman protester away from home isn’t easy. Amid the chaos, menstrual hygiene has been a growing concern for women out there fighting for their rights. Tractor-trolleys have been turned into temporary shelters and the kind residents of neighbouring villages in Haryana are letting women use their bathrooms, providing them with hot water even. Khalsa Aid, a non-profit organisation, has stepped in: They are setting temporary toilets and providing sanitary napkins to women. The organisation has also been serving free langar to protesters at multiple locations.

While thousands of women farmers have found their space at the protest, many more are supporting the cause from their homes. As ThePrint report highlights, the farmers’ protest is also a representation of the women who have to stay back home to fulfill their duties, be it raising the family or guarding and watering the fields at 2 am. “In such a season, when the men have left their villages to protest and brave lathis, all the responsibilities of farming is on the shoulders of women.”

The women are not backing down. We saw the grit of the dadis of Shaheen Bagh earlier this year, now it’s a show of strength from their counterparts from Bahadur Garh.