While authoritarian states promoting neoliberal forms of governance have taken advantage of COVID-19 to weaken the foundations of civil society, there has also been a significant rise in contemporary struggles for a more democratic society during and around the pandemic. From December 2019 to November 2021, India has seen a significant number of protests. The timeline of collective resistance against the state and its divisive, violent and neoliberal agenda represents a critical juncture in Indian politics. This paper focuses on the farmers’ protests that started from last November and recently ended in a stunning, hard-earned victory. In a sector that is overwhelmingly male-dominated and deeply patriarchal, women farmers have come out on the streets protesting the controversial Farm Laws hastily passed by the Indian government in September 2019 that threatened to corporatize farming and increase exploitation and marginalisation of small farmers. What is most interesting about the farmers’ protests is large-scale participation of women across caste, class, occupational, and religious divide which has changed the composition and dynamics of collective resistance and demonstrate how organised and collective resistance can become symbols of solidarity and intersectional dissent. The paper will examine the role of gender and female agency in protests by female occupying bodies in physical spaces particularly when under the pretext of COVID -19 crisis management the state has severely pushed back against citizens right to dissent and fight for justice. The farmer’s protest has brought to the fore women’s role in mass mobilisations. Women’s participation in the protest has tremendous significance for women’s movement for justice, equality and rights and can pose a real challenge to the return of the ‘Strong State’.
"Dissenting Bodies, Disruptive Pandemic: Farmers’ Protest and Women’s Participation in Mass Mobilisation in India,"
Journal of International Women's Studies: Vol. 24:
2, Article 9.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol24/iss2/9