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Gender and Forest Commons of the Western Indian Himalayas: A Case Study of Differences

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Davidson-Hunt, Kerril Jean
Conference: Voices from the Commons, the Sixth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Berkeley, CA
Conf. Date: June 5-8, 1996
Date: 1996
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/479
Sector: Social Organization
Forestry
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): IASC
forestry
gender
village organization
women
caste system
social organization
Abstract: "This paper discusses the role of women in common property use in the Indian Himalayas, outlining the central role of women in the use of village commons and the protection of village forests and pastures. Women were interviewed in two villages of the Kulu Valley and, in one village in particular, were found to have organized themselves in a similar manner to the women of the Chipko movement to regulate and protect village forests from degradation. The Mahila Mandal, a women's organization found throughout India, was the main vehicle for village control and management of common lands. While almost all women within the village were found to use village commons for the multiple purposes of fuel, fodder and/or cattle bedding, the present research did not find that all women were equally involved in the decision-making processes that occurred over the use and management of village commons. Caste considerations were essential for understanding the village-level decision-making processes over village common property. The Mahila Mandal was composed primarily of upper caste Rajput women. The exclusion of lower caste women from the village organization that regulated the use of village commons meant that specific needs of lower caste women were not incorporated into the management of village commons."

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