52 SOCIAL SCIENTIST
proper perspective, the part played by women in rural society has to be considered in terms of its economic value rather than as a mere social contribution. There is a need for proper assessment of the participation of rural women in income generating activities and their contribution to economic development.
In our country the population of women is about 49 per cent of the total but their labour participation rate is much lower compared to many other countries; indeed it is as low as 25 per cent. Of all working women in our rural areas 50 per cent are agricultural labourers, while 30 per cent are from poor peasant cultivator families. According to one estimate (1977-78), in the age group of 15-59 the proportion of rural women in the total labour force was 39 per cent. In the same age group, nearly 60 per cent of women in rural areas were gainfully employed. One of the features of the Indian labour force, as several studies have pointed out, is the downward trend in female work participation. This paper seeks to study the mode of utilisation of labour sex-wise and activity-wise among different categories of families, viz., agricultural families, artisan families and agricultural labour families to investigate the role of female labour.
The study was carried out in one of the villages of Warangal, a backward district in Andhra Pradcsh. The village has 2100 households of which 75 per cent are cultivators, 5 per cent artisans and professionals, and 20 per cent landless labourers. Among cultivator households 56 per cent are 'large' cultivators with landholding above five acres, and the remaining are 'small9 cultivators with holdings less than five acres. All the households in the village were classified into three groups: a) agricultural, b) professional and artisan and c) agricultural labour. An equal sample of 20 from each of the categories was selected on the basis of stratified random sampling. Agricultural households were further classified into 'small' with less than five acres and 'large9 with more than five acres. An equal sample of 10 from each group was selected. The artisan families in the sample mainly comprise weavers, blacksmiths, carpenters and petty trading people.
The data were collected through a pre-structured questionnaire and schedules. The data pertain to the agricultural year 1980-81. Work hours for various activities were converted into standard work days of eight hours,
Women who are usually busy with domestic work provide subsistence labour in work like looking after dairy, poultry or orchard. In a developing country like ours with a considerable share of non-monetary transactions in rural areas, these workers should be identified as active and part of the labour force. Thus the self-employed in unpaid but income-supplementing activities in the nature of crop-husbandry,