People's Struggles

“Our lives are determined by the plantations. Where we live, how much we earn, and what we can cook at home. They even decide the dates of our marriage. Self-determination? We don’t know what it is.”

The struggle of female tea plantation workers in the western region of India illustrates a recurrent reality for women around the world.

In rural areas, women cultivate crops, plow the land, and collect more than 50% of the food. Their contribution is essential to the workforce in the food sector because they take on tasks prior to and after the harvest, whether these are paid or not. Additionally, women are expected to bear the main burden of household chores and care work.

Sadly, despite playing a fundamental role in their communities, women receive little to no recognition and are often regarded as second-class citizens. On the tea plantations, where life has changed very little since Colonial times, women find themselves at the short end of the stick.

Female workers compose more than half of the entire workforce. The average salary is 1.34 euros per day, for those lucky enough to reach the minimum quota established. There are no concessions for pregnant workers, prenatal and postnatal care is disregarded, and access to childcare is inadequate.

“The government has given up on us,” says one women worker while caring for her infant daughter.

Nonetheless, tea plantation workers, women and man are mobilizing to improve their working and living conditions and to end the cycle of dependency they are subjected to. For women, in particular, this struggle continues beyond the boundary of the plantation.