Tribal women’s movement in modern India

Tribal history is proud to have seen brave and courageous women from indigenous communities, who not only fought for their rights but also successfully led their communities and are credited in establishing the Republic of India . Rani Durgavati, a fierce ruler of the kingdom of Gondwana fought valiantly against the Mughal armies and was martyred during the war. Rani gaidinliu led the movement to exorcise the colonial rulers of Nagaland and Manipur and Rani chennamma has been the Queen of Kittur and the first ruler to fight against British rule.

Tribal activists and adivasis like Dayani Barla, Kuni Sikala, Jamuna Tudu, Neidonuo Angami, Soni Sori to name a few have set an example for many young women who are fighting for their rights. Bright tribal women love Duee Chand, Mary Kom and Dangmei Grac have also achieved feats in the field of sports.

The decline in the status of tribal women in independent India is commensurate with the shift from forage tribes to farming tribes due to the growing influence of caste values ​​in daily life and the disintegration of old community systems of control. , management and profit sharing.

The government has now recognized many of these valuable women in indigenous societies to boost their morale. Tulsi Munda, a courageous woman, herself a victim of child labor, received the Padma Shri for her tremendous contribution to the field of education, especially for the development of schools for tribal children. Not only in social areas, but tribal women have also made their mark in art and culture. Purnamasi Jani, a tribal poet from Odisha, also known locally as Tadisaru Bai, composed and created over 50,000 devotional songs in Odia, Kui and even Sanskrit. She received the Padma Shri in January 2021. Healing and treating people with miraculous contribution in the field of traditional medicine, Lakshmikutty Amma, a 75 year old tribal poison healer from Kallar, Kerala also received the Padma Shri.

Read also : Rani Durgavati: The valiant Queen Gond | #IndianWomenInHistory

These tribal women, champions of tribal feminism have made a mark in society and have proven that women are all fighters and above all equal to their male counterparts. These achievements bear witness to the long road traveled by these women. With what we are seeing of a momentous and confusing revolution in their community, tribal women have now started to assert their inheritance and property rights. Dev Kelkar in the delivered Gender and tribe: women, land and forest in Jharkhand suggest that the decline in the status of tribal women in independent India is proportional to the shift from forage tribes to farming tribes due to the growing influence of caste values ​​in daily life and the disintegration of old community systems control, management and profit sharing.

In the West, tribal feminism is separated from philosophical feminism on the basis of ideals. But in India, in the states of Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, the seven sisters of the Northeast, Odisha and other states with tribal concentration; feminism is divided by a single denomination and united by ideologythe idea of ​​achieving equity in public spheres and equal recognition in personal spaces.

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It is appalling that even in this modern age, the abomination of women continues to be a growing problem. It would not be wrong to say that even after many developments in the area of ​​women’s rights, a majority of us still struggle to be taken seriously as society continues to hold millions of stigmas that place women in a pejorative position. Such discrimination is so obvious that we women continue to face inequalities in terms of both opportunities and outcomes.

However, the condition of a subset of women, namely – tribal women, is far worse than that of an average woman living in a metropolitan city. This does not mean that the hardships women go through in general are justified, but that it is imperative to address the status and achievements of tribal women in particular.

Feminist theories in indigenous communities seek answers to questions and respond to questions such as: “Have tribal women presented themselves as activists? “,” Is there a patriarchal structure in their society? “,” Does the tribal community have the same having a male child? “,” To what extent has modernization affected the status of women? “,” Are tribal women aware of their social disadvantages based on cultural / ethnic / racial prejudices? “,” What is the attitude of male members towards women? ‘,’ What are parents’ expectations of a tribal girl? ‘,’ What feminine qualities are they supposed to have? ‘ etc.

Read also : 3 tribal women who helped make India a republic

In this modern era and dominant sect of society, feminism is a religion, a revolution with zealous fervor, the desire for certainty and absolute conviction. Where on the one hand, women from relatively privileged sects in society crystallize daily experiences; tribal women, on the other hand, still struggle with something as basic as recognition in public spheres.

Tribal women run the risk of being subsumed into an exotic cultural trope as non-speaking participants, passive data subjects, smiling servers waiting to be integrated into traditional governance and decision-making.

Tribal women run the risk of being subsumed into an exotic cultural trope as non-speaking participants, passive data subjects, smiling servers waiting to be integrated into traditional governance and decision-making. A Feminist Naga writes her account describing the struggle of tribal women in the region to achieve something as basic as equality, while still hoping for the righteousness of her people to “resist money, power and the lures of the world. authority wrapped in patriarchal and traditional Naga coats.

Feminism: the voice of tribal women, yet?

Anil Kumar Mahapatra who studied Koraput tribal women, Odisha concludes that feminism is not something foreign to tribal women. Rather, it is deeply rooted in the culture itself, than being followed by fear, compassion, enlightenment, education or compulsion. He prefers to call her spontaneous and indigenous.

Over the past few years, after much deliberation, there have indeed been significant incremental changes in the tribal community. Modernization is taking over, affecting both men and women. However, the burden of inequitable socio-cultural norms and gender roles is so deeply embedded that men are still viewed as more worthy than women, and quite often by women themselves. It is time for these tribal women to be brought to light and given a platform for them to rise up and shine.


Trisha is a legal designer and a freelance female entrepreneur. She is also a member of the Advisory Board, Harvard Business Review and is the author of several books. She wishes to raise issues and open avenues for women in the field of litigation and business. You can find it on LinkedIN and Instagram

Featured Image Source: News18

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