As part of a knowledge partnership exercise between SEWA Cooperative Federation and IT for Change under the ‘Re-wiring India's Digitalising Economy for Women's Rights and Well-being’ project, IT for Change conducted a baseline survey of 130 women farmers who are members of Megha Mandli, an agricultural cooperative under the SEWA Cooperative Federation. The baseline survey sought to measure various agricultural and economic parameters of women farmers from the districts of Kheda and Tapi in the state of Gujarat, who largely practice subsistence farming. Additionally, parameters regarding access to digital and financial technologies were also measured, informing the ongoing SEWA-ITfC project of institutionalizing a data cooperative for the SEWA Federation.
The baseline survey revealed that women's access to digital technologies is heavily mediated by their families and spouses, despite most households owning and using smartphones. However, women's engagement with agricultural decision-making is significant, where most women either manage and handle farming by themselves, or in partnership with their spouses and extended families. The baseline survey also indicated that most farming families interviewed continue to rely on informal market information to make decisions about selling produce, despite enhanced digital access at a family level. Access to markets, fair rates, and affordable means of transportation to the point of sale, all emerged as significant gaps as a result of poor institutional mechanisms that support women farmers, highlighting the need for a gender-responsive solution while designing appropriate interventions.
The complete baseline report and its recommendations can be read here.