Women in Developing Sustainable Livelihood System Through

endurance, gr eater courage and as a whole a greater intuition. And finally a woman make ... Women (NMEW) which has a five year mandate to achieve int...

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Odisha Review

December - 2015

Women in Developing Sustainable Livelihood System Through Sericulture in Rural India Dr. Purusottam Dash, Subhashree Dash & Dr. Sasmita Behera

ABSTRACT Demographic information of India indicates nearly 48.27% of the country’s population are women. Sericulture being an agro-based industry provides employment to about 7.5 million persons in India, out of which 3.9 million persons which is about 53% are women and thus can clearly be stated as a women friendly sector. Women are involved in this sector from host plant cultivation to dyeing & printing of fabrics, thereby deriving higher returns than men. Formation and activation of women SHGs can be utilized as a launch pad for promoting women’s participation in sericulture sector. Adoption of sericulture by women will make them empowered and will help transforming India into a developed country. Key words:+ demographic studies + ILO + Indian census + MDG +women empowerment

Introduction Once Gandhi told to call woman the weaker sex is a libel, it is man’s injustice to woman. Woman is immeasurably superior than man in mental moral power. A woman is more self sacrificing, greater power of endurance, greater courage and as a whole a greater intuition. And finally a woman make more effective appeal to the heart. ( Mahatma Gandhi) The United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which are considered to be the most successful global antipoverty push in the history of development, its vital goal is to promote gender equality and empowerment of women because where women are not afforded equal rights as men can never achieve development in a sustainable manner. The United Nations Millennium Project has the aim

to end world poverty by 2015. An ILO report on Gender Equality reveals that women performs 2/3rd of world’s work, yet they earn 1/10th of world's income, are 2/3rd of world's illiterate and own just 1/100th of the world's property. An ILO estimation reflects that women made up at least 60% of the world’s working force. A survey shows that 55% of women between 5-59 age group are economically active. In 2012 the President of India launched the National Mission for the Empowerment of Women (NMEW) which has a five year mandate to achieve inter sectorial convergence of all women and women-centric programmes across Ministries. Special initiatives for women like National Commission for Women, reservation for women in Local Self Government, national policy for the empowerment of women has been formed to 31

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prioritize the empowerment of women. The Global Gender Gap report 2013 released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) which tries to measure the relative gaps between women and men across countries has put India’s ranking at 101 position amongst 136 countries.

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fishery in part and partial of integrated farming system. —

It provides jobs at doorsteps and avoid long travelling from the dwelling places and for women involved in these activities can easily take up child rearing along with other household activities also.

Landless farmers can gain full employment on seasonal and non-farm activities like mulberry cultivation, silkworm rearing, silk reeling, silk twisting, printing , dyeing and weaving etc.

The sector involves low gestation period, needs minimum investment, provides continuous job opportunities, frequent income with good profit margin.

Organized labour demand prevents rural migration and increased urban floating population.

Studies indicate that over 53% of Indian sericulture workforce is women in comparision to 35-40% in pre loom work in Handloom sector.Such a high proportion of women participation in sericulture sector is mainly because of its unique features like;

The sector is eco-friendly and provides green canopy in shorter duration which facilitate to check soil erosion, as a result stabilizes the nutritive status of the soil.

Growing up of silkworm food plants can also be taken up in up lands/ wet lands which remain barren and non productive for food crops.

The sector involves mostly rearing activities in indoor with low requirement of physical energy and manual labour.

The total working period is distributed in 3 to 4 shifts and spread over 16 to 18 hours in a day.

Silkworm rearing, reeling and spinning demand soft skills , delicacy and care which is an inherent women quality.

The leftouts of the sector used otherwise is a source for rural fuel, vermicomposting, handmade paper, biogas production etc and provides scope of byproduct utilization and value addition and better earning which has the ultimate demand for rural and urban population.

Innovation and introduction of women friendly technologies and reduction of drudgery in the working condition attract more women towards the sector.

Sericulture, being an agro based rural industry, is currently practiced in 27 states in India. India occupies 2nd position in silk production next to China. Only India enjoys the monopoly of commercially exploiting all 5 varieties of commercially exploited silk worms namely mulberry, tropical tasar, temperate tasar, eri and muga. The sector provides employment to about 7.5 million persons in India. India being the 2nd populous country in the world, enjoys the biggest human resource of work force.Sericulture is an interdisciplinary activitity merged with agriculture, animal husbandry and this industry suits all category of women in India, where more than 60% of the population lives in the rural part of the country. Women-Friendly Sericulture Industry in India


Silkworm rearing can be taken up easily with other activities like cattle/sheep/goat/ chicks/

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Sericulture and women friendly activities in India A major range of activities of soil to silk conversion is performed by women as below; Sl No Type of work

Women friendly activities


Mulberry cultivation

Raising of nursery, planting, weeding, fertilizer application, leaf harvesting etc.


Silkworm rearing

Egg production, chawki rearing, late age rearing, picking up of ripen and dead worms, bed cleaning, cocoon harvesting etc.


Silk reeling

Cocoon sorting, cooking, reeling in charkhas, in cottage basin, in multiends, in automatic machines etc, Re-reeling and twisting and hand and book making etc.



Warp making, Porn winding , weaving in handlooms and power looms



Dyeing and block printing, value addition in design making etc



Fashion designing, market promotion etc.


By-product utilization

Silk spinning, Dupion reeling, cut cocoon handicrafts etc.


Seri dependant activities

Silk and milk production. Silk and fish production, silk and backyard poultry production

Women in different sericulture activities in 2013-14 Name of the activities

Percentage of women participant/ employment

Mulberry cultivation


Silk worm rearing


Silk reeling


Silk throwing


Silk weaving


Silk by-product utilisation


Silk spinning


Silk worm egg production


Silk dyeing and printing


Silk and milk production


Contribution of Sericulture in women income in India Studies by Chandrama Goswami and Manisha Bhattacharya during March,2013 indicate that in Assam agriculture contributes about 37.40% of the family income of the house hold in rural areas followed by sericulture which is 23.4%, the state which is a vanya silk producing state predominantly. The higher contribution to a household is from agriculture because the men of the households adopted agriculture as their prime occupation whereas women besides child rearing and other ancillary house work practiced sericulture. But the households in states like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Jammu & Kashmir are more traditional in mulberry produce. About 89 -90% of total silk production of India contributes more to income of a household in rural sector. 33

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Fund flow out of Rs.100 for different categories of silk activities Sl. No. Activities


Share of women (considering 53 % work done by women)

Share of men


Cocoon grower





Silk reeler





Re-reeler & Twister





Dyeing & Printing









3. Lack of awareness facilities and less involvement of non Govt. organizations in the sector. 4. Non participation or inactive participation in decision making and benefit sharing. 5. Non accessibility/ non availability/ non introduction of women-friendly technologies. Graphical representation of fund flow for different activities of sericulture in pre loom stage shows higher returns to women than men in India. Issues of women sericulturists in India Although a huge number of women are involved in the sector numbering to 7.5 million in India, next to handloom sector which measures about 29,98,362 lakh workers as per the handloom census of 2010, yet the work force have been left with many issues to be addressed for their better development and transforming to a developed India. These are : 1. Disparity in wages and gender based approaches where male part is preferred. 2. Literacy is a barrier for accessing to the resources like credit and land ownership. 34

6. Risk of occupational health hazards and differences in health awareness policies. 7. Lack of support and low motivation and encouragement towards self development and community development in a male dominated rural society. 8. Less publicity of successful women persons, women entrepreneurs of the country to be a source for inspiration and icon making. 9. Non availability of women-friendly single window for establishment and self sustainability programmes. No special women oriented budgetary provision in the country. 10. Non availability of easy market supports and women supported resource centres and women -friendly technologies.

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References :

Demographic information of India indicates nearly 48.27 % of the country’s population are women. Majority of them are within the age group of 15 to 64 years. And the average literacy rate is 65.46%.India is an agrobased country and 50% of the population derives their livelihood from agriculture and its allied sector. Sericulture being a non food crop attracts the clinching eyes of the policy makers due to its women-friendly activities. In India after gold,silk is the second preferred article favouring to Indian women.Besides its popular domestic and international demand the sector is also known for its diversified uses in health, medicine, science, research, space and its aesthetic values. As a result the sector is now a source of living for 2 million households and seven million people living in rural India. Formation and activation of women SHGs can be utilized as a launch pad for promoting women’s participation in sericulture sector. And adoption of sericulture by women entrepreneurs will make them empowered and will help transforming India to a developed country.


So we may say women in sericulture means women in development. Women in development indicates developed India.

Dandin, S.B Sericulture & Women Entrepreneurship, 66-70, Indian Silk, SeptemberNovember, 2014 Vol.5 (53 old) No 5-7. 2. Das S, Human Development vis-a-vis Women’s Development: A Progress Analysis in Odisha, 56-60, Odisha Review Vol. LXXI No.1 August-2014. 3. Deobhanj S Empowering India with Gender Equality, 97-101, Odisha Review, Vol. LXXI No. 1 August-2014. 4. Gender Equality, UNDP. 5. Goel Chhaya and Goel Devraj (2014), Women Empowerment in India: Stereotyping and Modernity, University News, Vol.52, No.25 June 23-29,2014. 6. http//www.un.org/womenwatch/ 7. National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development(2010), Statistics on Women in India 2010, NIPCCD, New Delhi. 8. Patel A, Palo N Odisha State Policy for Girls & Women,2014- Key Features, 70-72, Odisha Review, Vol. LXXI No. 1 August-2014. 9. Shetty K.K, Sericulture-A tool for women empowerment,4-6, Indian Silk, June-August,2014 Vol.5 (53 old) No.2-4. 10. www.censusindia.gov.in

Dr. Purusottam Dash and Subhashree Dash, Directorate of Textiles and Handlooms, Odisha, Bhubaneswar. Dr. Sasmita Behera, P.G. Deptt. of Home Science, RD Women’s Autonomous College, Bhubaneswar.