Some of the women leaders who stood up, spoke out Over the last year, as men, young and old, set off to Delhi and elsewhere to protest against the laws, back home, a largely invisible force held up the other end — their wives, mothers, daughters and daughters-in-law, who worked the fields and tended to families. Yet, there were several women who took the plunge, joined the agitation and led from the front.
Malan Kaur, 70
General secretary of the women’s wing of BKU Ugrahan in Bathinda district, Kaur, who has never gone to school, says it was son’s teacher who inspired her son and later her to speak up for farmers and their rights. Since 2004, she has been part of the women’s wing of BKU Ugrahan.
Kaur was 60 when she first went up on stage to speak. Since then, she has motivated several women in Bathinda to step out of their homes. “I cannot read or write so I listen to recorded videos or ask my daughters-in-law to read out to me. That’s how I learnt more about the farm laws.”
Jasbir Kaur Natt, 60
A state committee member of the Punjab Kisan Morcha, Jasbir has been managing the stage at Tikri border since the first week of December last year.
“I have been at Tikri all these days and went home only once to see my sick mother,” says Jasbir, who retired as a clerk from the electricity board.
Harinder Kaur Bindu, 42
Vice-president of the BKU Ugrahan, Harinder, from village Ramgarh Bhagatuana in Faridkot district of Punjab, has been associated with the farmer union for over 16 years. “I am a farmer, a mother, a daughter. But since June 2020, I have had just one purpose: getting the farm laws revoked. My teenage son came once to meet me at the Tikri border. I miss them. But you need to make some sacrifices to set an example for others,” she says.
Balbir Kaur Sidhu, 40
A practising advocate, Balbir is in charge of BKU Dakaunda’s Mansa unit. “Women were not very active and farmer unions hardly had any women’s wings. I joined BKU Dakaunda in 2010. Today, most of the villages in Mansa have women’s wings of farm unions. I was able to mobilise a number of women to step out of their homes and travel to Delhi to protest. Many of them also lead morchas in Punjab. Our hard work has paid off.”
Surjit Kaur Aklia, 75
Member of the Mansa unit of BKU Dakaunda, Surjit Kaur, from Aklia village in Mansa, is part of the langar committee at Singhu. “My sons are both farmers. I stayed in Delhi for 70 days and came home only on March 7. After that, I kept going for shorter durations,” says Kaur, who spoke into a mic for the first time during the protest in Delhi. “I have never been to school and didn’t think I would be able to do this…
I got this strength after this struggle started.”