From Gin Girls to Scavengers: Women in Raniganj Collieries


Lahiri-Dutt, Kuntala. 2001. “From Gin Girls to Scavengers: Women in Raniganj Collieries.” Economic and Political Weekly 36 (44): 4213–21.

Author: Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt


In the beginning, the coal mining industry employed women from the adivasi and lower caste communities in various stages of production. Their role continued to be significant as long as technology remained labour-intensive and collieries were small and surface-bound. The expansion of the industry and increasing mechanisation saw a decline in women's participation. This paper based on research in the Raniganj coalbelt in eastern India describes how the work of resource extraction becomes gendered, the growing marginalisation of women, and their increasing alienation from access to environmental resources and their transformation into illegitimate and invisible beings.

Topics: Caste, Environment, Extractive Industries, Gender, Women, Infrastructure Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2001

Spatial Agendas for Decision-Making in Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh: The Influence of Place, Class and Caste on Women’s Role in Environmental Management


Jewitt, Sarah, and Kathleen Baker. 2011. “Spatial Agendas for Decision-Making in Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh: The Influence of Place, Class and Caste on Women’s Role in Environmental Management.” In Gendered Geographies: Space and Place in South Asia. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Authors: Sarah Jewitt, Kathleen Baker

Topics: Caste, Class, Environment, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Political Participation Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2011

Women and Decentralized Water Governance: Issues, Challenges and the Way Forward


Kulkarni, Seema. 2011. “Women and Decentralised Water Governance: Issues, Challenges and the Way Forward.” Economic & Political Weekly 46 (18): 64–72.

Author: Seema Kulkarni


Based on a study of water rights and women’s rights in decentralised water governance in Maharashtra and Gujarat, this paper argues that decentralisation will fail to meet its desired objectives unless the value systems, culture and the nature of institutions, including the family, change. While the policy initiative of introducing quotas for women in public bodies is welcome and necessary, it is certainly not sufficient for the success of decentralisation in a society ridden with discrimination based on class, caste and patriarchy, and where the culture of political patronage is dominant. The presence of vibrant social and political movements that propose alternative cultural, social and political paradigms would be a necessary foundation for major social changes. The success of decentralised water governance is constrained by the conceptualisation of the larger reform in water at one level and the notions of the normative woman, community, public and the private domains, and institutions at another. Unless all of these are altered, decentralised processes will not be truly democratic.

Topics: Caste, Class, Corruption, Democracy / Democratization, Environment, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Governance, Quotas Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2011

Women in Peace Politics


Banerjee, Paula. 2008. Women in Peace Politics. New Delhi: SAGE Publications.

Author: Paula Banerjee


"Women in Peace Politics explores the role of women as agents and visionaries of peace in South Asia. Peace is redefined to include in its fold the attempt by women to be a part of the peace making process, reworking the structural inequalities faced by them and their struggle against all forms of oppression. This volume, the third in the series of the South Asia Peace Studies, deals with the myriad dimensions of peace as practised by South Asian women over a period of time. It chronicles the lives of "ordinary" women—their transformative role in peace and an attempt to create a space of their own. Their peace activism is examined in the historical context of their participation in national liberation movements since the early twentieth century. The articles in the collection adopt a new approach to understanding peace—as a desire to end repression that cuts across caste, class, race and gender and an effort on the part of women to transform their position in society."

Topics: Caste, Class, Conflict Prevention, Gender, Women, Gender Balance, Gendered Power Relations, Peacebuilding, Peace Processes, Political Participation, Race, Security, Human Security Regions: Asia, South Asia

Year: 2008

(Re-)Conceptualizing Water Inequality in Delhi, India through a Feminist Political Ecology Framework


Truelove, Yaffa. 2011. “(Re-)Conceptualizing Water Inequality in Delhi, India through a Feminist Political Ecology Framework.” Geoforum, Themed Issue: New Feminist Political Ecologies, 42 (2): 143–52. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2011.01.004.

Author: Yaffa Truelove


This article demonstrates how a feminist political ecology (FPE) framework can be utilized to expand scholarly conceptualizations of water inequality in Delhi, India. I argue that FPE is well positioned to complement and deepen urban political ecology work through attending to everyday practices and micropolitics within communities. Specifically, I examine the embodied consequences of sanitation and ‘water compensation’ practices and how patterns of criminality are tied to the experience of water inequality. An FPE framework helps illuminate water inequalities forged on the body and within particular urban spaces, such as households, communities, streets, open spaces and places of work. Applying FPE approaches to the study of urban water is particularly useful in analyzing inequalities associated with processes of social differentiation and their consequences for everyday life and rights in the city. An examination of the ways in which water practices are productive of particular urban subjectivities and spaces complicates approaches that find differences in distribution and access to be the primary lens for viewing how water is tied to power and inequality.

Keywords: water, inequality, gender, Urban India, Criminality, Environmental politics, feminist political ecology

Topics: Caste, Civil Society, Class, Corruption, Feminisms, Feminist Political Ecology, Gender, Gender Analysis, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation, Political Economies Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2011

Indian Clubs and Colonialism: Hindu Masculinity and Muscular Christianity


Alter, Joseph S. 2004. “Indian Clubs and Colonialism: Hindu Masculinity and Muscular Christianity.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 46 (3): 497–534.

Author: Joseph S. Alter


Following Edward Said's Orientalism (1978), there has been considerable interest in studying gender images and engendered practices that emerged out of colonialism, both during the era of colonialism (Cooper and Stoler 1997; R. Lewis 1996; Stoler 1991; 1995; 2002), and subsequently (Altman 2001; Enloe 1993). Many of these studies have shown how colonized women were subject to the gendered and often sexualized gaze of Western men (Carrier 1998; Doy 1996; Grewal 1996; Yegenoglu 1998), and how colonized men were often regarded as either effeminate or “martial” by virtue of their birth into a particular group. Arguably, the latent ambiguity of regarding all colonized men as effete, and yet categorizing some colonized men as strong and aggressively virile, points to one of the many complex contradictions manifest in the cultural politics of colonialism. A similar point could be made with regard to nationalism, wherein women, and the image men want women to present of themselves, reflects masculine ambivalence about modernity (Chatterjee 1993). In any case, even when colonial discourse essentializes the virile masculinity of various subject groups—in particular the so-called martial castes of South Asia (Hopkins 1889; MacMunn 1977)—the putative masculinity of these groups is ascribed to breeding and latent “savagery,” and is rarely, if ever, conceived of as an achieved status, much less something an individual from some other group might achieve on the basis of training or practice. (Cambridge Journals).

Topics: Caste, Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Gender, Women, Men, Masculinity/ies, Nationalism, Religion, Sexuality Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2004

Violence and Dalit Women’s Resistance in Rural Bihar


Srivastava, Sumit S. 2007. “Violence and Dalit Women’s Resistance in Rural Bihar.” Indian Anthropologist 37 (2): 31–44.

Author: Sumit S. Srivastava


The present study analyses the participation of dalit women in the naxalite movement in Bihar as a strategy of their empowerment and liberation from gender exploitation and patriarchy. The overlapping categories of caste along with class are of prime importance in our study. The broad objectives of the study are to explore experiences of violence and in response to it the nature and viability of gendering naxalite movement in Bihar. Such modes of resistance encounter different set of oppression and sites. The issues of participation are those of equal land rights and recourse to retaliation in cases of violation of dignity and violence. Similarly, the 'othering' of dalit women seen in the targeted killings of these women in massacres by landed gentry is also explored. In conclusion, the study argues that there are multiple forms of violence which require that gender and violence to be critically interpreted in the framework of caste. Most importantly, the resistance to violence by dalit women in Bihar aims to negotiate sexual exploitation and patriarchy thereby enhancing their functionalities to the optimum.

Keywords: Bihar, violence, Dalit women, Naxalite movement

Topics: Caste, Class, Gender, Women, Girls, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Violence Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2007

Women, Armed Conflict, and Peacemaking in Sri Lanka: Toward a Political Economy Perspective


Bandarage, Asoka. 2010. “Women, Armed Conflict, and Peacemaking in Sri Lanka: Toward a Political Economy Perspective.” Asian Politics & Policy 2 (4): 653–67.

Author: Asoka Bandarage


This article discusses women's roles as victims, perpetrators, and peacemakers in armed conflicts in contemporary Sri Lanka. It covers such phenomena as rape as a weapon of war, women IDPs, “war widows,” female-headed households, women suicide bombers, mothers for peace, and feminist peace activism. The article points out that aggression and victimization need to be understood as occurring across ethnicity and gender as well as within ethnic and gender groups. Contributing toward a political economy perspective, the article considers the complex intersection of gender, ethnicity, caste, and social class within the confluence of local, regional, and international forces. The article concludes by emphasizing the need to broaden the social class and local bases of feminist peace activism and to formulate an integrated gender-, ethnicity- and class-sensitive policy agenda for postconflict development in Sri Lanka.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Caste, Class, Combatants, Female Combatants, Displacement & Migration, IDPs, Ethnicity, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Households, Peace Processes, Political Economies, Sexual Violence, Rape Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Sri Lanka

Year: 2010

Women as Marginal Workers in Informal Mining and Quarrying, India: A Preliminary Analysis


Mukhopadhaya, Pundarik, and Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt. 2014. “Women as Marginal Workers in Informal Mining and Quarrying, India: A Preliminary Analysis.” Journal of the Asia Pacific Economy 19 (2): 290–309. doi:10.1080/13547860.2014.880287.

Authors: Pundarik Mukhopadhaya, Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt


This paper presents an analysis of 2001 Indian Census data at the state level on women workers in the mining and quarrying (M&Q) sector. In the absence of official data on informal M&Q, the paper uses the census category of ‘marginal workers’ as a rough indicator of informal employment within this industrial category. The paper has two stages of analysis: first, it presents a state-by-state description of employment of women as main and marginal workers in key minerals; it then correlates income and other social indicators to the proportion of women marginal workers in different mineral categories in order to explore the connections between income, poverty/ economic ill-being, caste and other social factors and informal M&Q. It concludes that at the state level, correlations are difficult to draw, and that there is need for further elaborate data for analysis.

Keywords: informal sector, marginal workers, India, women, mining and quarrying

Topics: Caste, Economies, Poverty, Extractive Industries, Gender, Women, Governance, Livelihoods, Political Participation Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2014

Roles and Status of Women in Extractive Industries in India: Making a Place for a Gender-Sensitive Mining Development


Lahiri-Dutt, Kuntala. 2007. “Roles and Status of Women in Extractive Industries in India: Making a Place for a Gender-Sensitive Mining Development.” Social Change 37 (4): 37–64.

Author: Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt


In tracing women’s roles and analysing their low status in the extractive industries in India, particularly coal mining, this paper highlights the need of sensitizing the Indian mining establishments ranging from educational, research and training institutions to the Ministries and Bureaus as well as the industrial organizations so as to provide equal work opportunities for women. It shows that mining is not a ‘non-traditional’ area of work for women as is commonly thought. It also raises the importance of class, caste and locational juxtaposition in understanding institutionalized sensitivities towards gender. The author argues that the formal extractive industries continue to exclude women and remain sites of rewards of production for men because of the entrenched social bias as traditionally those working in the collieries were largely from lower caste, poorer classes and indigenous communities.


  • The article discusses “three differential aspects in gendering the extractive industries in India: gender roles, gendered social identities in the mines, and gendered status of workers.” (40)
  • The lack of women’s ownership rights over land lies at the core of disenfranchisement of women in almost all natural resource management sectors. FAO (1996) notes: ‘Land rights can serve multiple functions in rural women’s lives, which are not easy to replicate through other means.’… In extractive industries, this lack of access to mineral resources in terms of lack of property rights put women in a position of poor bargaining power both as a group and as individuals.” (45).


“…women’s participation as producers often remains invisible. Women’s contribution in a range of work in and around the mines demolishes many myths about gender roles of men and women at work. Women’s work in mining blur the rigid boundaries of gender roles and show that… the spheres of men and women’s work are not necessarily separate but overlap.” (38)

“The culturally propagated myths are supported by formal laws that restrict women’s work in mines… such restrictions result in a concentration of women only in lower level, manual, less safe and more insecure jobs. Better paid or technical jobs in mines do not usually go to women… Women do not own the mines due to limited access to and control over resources such as land, including what lies under or over it. The inequity gets transmitted from the industry to the community of its location; the unequal economic and social relationships between men and women imposed by the social organization of mining industry reinforce the subordinate position of women in the mining regions.” (38-39)

“A gender perspective will deepen our understanding of the labour dynamics of the extractive industry. It will show how the differential positions of women and men in the spheres of industrial production reflect the social relations of gender and are perpetuated by gender ideologies, whereas economic differences among women result from the inequalities of class and ethnicity, structured by the mode of production…” (41)

“Women’s involvement in mining work is a critically important challenge in ‘engendering’ the extractive industries sector in India… in most parts of the country, and in almost all natural resource management sectors, the lack of equity is evident in their poor status in formally determining resource utilization. Throughout India women comprise a disproportionate segment of the chronically poor population, face gender discrimination throughout their lives within the family, society and at places of work, have low levels of control over property and resources, and bear shocking burdens of work.” (44)

“The focus of national policies and programmes has been more on employment generation for women rather than ownership and control over resources. In general, these policies tend to pay least importance in addressing women’s needs and priorities or to involving them in decision-making roles.” (45)

“Trade unions in the coal mining industry have also been less responsive to women workers’ needs and interests than their male members’ interests. The attitude to women workers tends to be condescending and in their ‘noble’ efforts to ‘protect’ the weak women, trade unions often fail to look after women’s issues and interest in a substantive way.” (47)

“Women’s proportional employment in the formal sector has been steadily declining since independence… Since women’s employment in all industrial categories has increased in recent years, this decline can be attributed to their substitution by men in formal and large mines. Consequently, small mines and quarries have been able to absorb the cheap labour of women in large numbers as contract workers under conditions of bondage and exploitation… throughout Asia the numbers of women engaged in informal mining have been rising… Given the seasonality of these jobs, insecurity and low wages, and the global trend of feminization, informalization and casualization of women’s labour, it can safely be assumed that the work participation of women in the informal mines will also rise.” (50-51)

Topics: Caste, Class, Economies, Extractive Industries, Gender, Gender Roles, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Indigenous, Livelihoods, Rights, Land Rights Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2007


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