Mamata Nanda and Souvik Ghosh
Palli Siksha Bhavana, Visva-Bharati (A central University), Sriniketan, West Bengal, India
Male migration has become a well-adopted livelihood strategy in dryland agriculture. Due to neoliberal policies, men are easily able to move out of the farm leaving the women behind. As women have less access to education, resources, and the development of skills, they lack the opportunity for better-paying jobs and usually stick to the farm or other traditional occupations. The absence of men has a multifaceted impact on women’s autonomy, which may result in their empowerment. It enables women to have better bargaining power, access to resources, decision-making, and mobility. The present study follows an exploratory sequential design and employs the indicators given in the WEAI India, which includes five dimensions i.e., production, resources, income, leadership, and time to measure the empowerment level of the migrant and non-migrant wives. A total of 160 respondents, out of which 100 migrant wives and 60 non-migrant wives were selected from the two blocks, Bhawanipatna and Thuamul Rampur blocks of Kalahandi district. When the overall empowerment level of the farm women was calculated, most of the farm women were found to be empowered in agriculture. The indicator which reflects the decision to take loans for agriculture showed the highest level of empowerment and input in decision-making showed the lowest level of empowerment. Comparing migrant wives and non-migrant wives, the process of migration does not seem to have a great impact on the empowerment level of farm women. By applying OLS regression, it was deduced that migration along with age, and household structure impacts the different indicators of women empowerment. The findings suggest that study around the impact of male migration on lives of the left behind women should also consider other actors of social change process to assess the probable empowerment of farm women.