MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Female farmers urged the Indian government on Wednesday to protect their land rights and keep them safe from abuse as women increasingly run farms abandoned by men for jobs in the city.

Women own just 13 percent of land in India although they do two-thirds of all farm work, with ownership largely passing from fathers to sons.

“At a time when there is rapid feminization of Indian agriculture, the data needs to reflect women farmers’ work,” Soma Parthasarathy of a women farmers’ rights, Mahila Kisan Adhikaar Manch, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Women have the greater work load, yet their rights are more insecure.”

Parthasarathy is among a delegation of women in New Delhi to issue the government with a charter of demands aimed at winning women equal status when it comes to land rights.

“Their names must appear in the land and cultivation records so they can finally gain a legitimate identity as farmers.”

As women’s names are seldom on title deeds, the government labels them “cultivators” rather than farmers, which means they are denied loans, insurance and other state benefits.

“Our main demand is delinking land ownership from the definition of who a farmer is, as women are not recognized as farmers,” said the prominent campaigner, who is leading the delegation at the New Delhi meeting.

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Photo source: Global Alliance for Livestock via Flickr/Creative Commons (CC By-NC-ND 2.0). Photo: ©Global Alliance for Livestock

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