The Invisible Female: Women of the UP Hills

When studying the status of women in Garhwal and Kumaon, we must disentangle the realities from the myths, including those that have emerged from the Chipko Andolan. 'Development' has sidelined women even though they have formed the backbone of the subsistence agriculture of this region. The hill women are becoming more, not less, dependent upon their menfolk.

Over the last two decades, the 'gender perspective' has become an accepted part of mainstream development thinking and rhetoric. However, in looking back over the experience of the hill, districts of Uttar Pradesh, one is forced to conclude that women here remain 'invisible'. One reason the marginal status of women is being perpetuated seems to be the apparent reluctance at the policy level to learn from a wealth of empirical and conceptual insights about the gender implications of development efforts gained in other agro-ecological contexts. Policies that are made remain insensitive to women's contributions to the rural economy, their access to productive resources, and the constraints they face in performing their roles as agriculturalists and subsistence providers.

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Himal Southasian