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Women comprise almost a half of the population anywhere in India. Everywhere women work hard and excel – as homemakers in the four walls of the house and as professionals like academicians, doctors, engineers, teachers, farmers, journalists, entrepreneurs and politicians.

But most often, they are taken for granted and their contribution to society is overlooked. This attitude is apparent in most urban societies.

However, things seem to be different in Adivasi areas, where women have for long been the real livelihood earners. In several Adivasi communities, women have been seen taking charge of their families single-handedly with their male counterparts being relegated to supporting roles.   

They not only work at home but also go out to earn a living. They fetch water for drinking from distant water sources, collect firewood from the forest and cook for the whole family.

Across the year, women go to the forest to collect minor forest produces like kendu leaves, mahul flower, mushrooms and turmeric and sell them in the local market. They also play an important role in protecting and conserving the forest.  

The contribution of Adivasi women to their families is acknowledged by all. That is why the status of women in tribal society is comparatively better than those in urban societies.

The contribution of women is quite significant in other rural societies too. For instance, women involve themselves in a big way in the fishing trade in the fishermen community. In fact, the supply chain is almost controlled by fisherwomen.   

Go to any weekly haat in a tribal area and you may find that the majority of the sellers of different commodities will be women. Studies have shown that the economy of the tribal and rural areas is mostly dependent on the women.

A society can be called really progressive and civilised only when it respects the efforts and hard work of the women. The so-called mainstream society may learn a lesson or two in this regard from the Adivasis.


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