Women and Forest: Changing Gender Relations Among the Kondhs in Odisha

Nikita Mishra


The identity, knowledge systems, production practices and consumption pattern of Kondhs links them with their ecological realities. Their economy is underpinned with the ethos of communitarianism and reciprocity. However, this community is experiencing changes in its way of life due to different external interventions such as market based ‘mainstream development’, stringent forest policies and unsecured land rights. These changes have particularly affected the rights and status of Kondh women, considering their high dependence on forest for food, fodder and livelihood. This study not only focuses on the changes but also emphasizes the strategies utilized by Kondh women to deal with the changing consequences. It tries to understand if the state forest policies, as claimed, have been able to secure access and rights of the forest to the adivasi women. It is qualitative in nature and uses interview method to grasp the experiences of Kondh women in Rayagada district of Odisha. It concludes that forest policies often neglected women’s worldviews, excluding them from making decisions regarding forest management and governance. It highlights the fact that securing community land rights to women is the most sustainable way to safeguard forest biodiversity.


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