Social Scientist. v 6, no. 61 (Aug 1977) p. 3.


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GAIL OMVEDT

Women and Rural Revolt in India

WOMEN were the inventors of agriculture. In all agricultural societies of the ^Third World', though to varying degrees, they continue to play a major productive role outside their work in the home, as peasant cultivators (often as ^unpaid family labour" not fully counted in censuses) or as agricultural labourers. In some they put in more hours of work than men do.1 And yet anthropologists and other social scientists have written of ^peasant societies" without dealing with women in any serious analytical sense, and the ^peasant" is still almost universally thought of as a male. It has taken the women's liberation movement itself and the new consciousness it has brought, to initiate some change in the scholarship.

The same is true of'^peasant revolts". Women play crucial roles, in organizing networks of support and as actual rebels themselves. In the protracted wars that have grown out of these they provide food, -carry messages, maintain production while men go into the jungle and quite often are members of armed units themselves. The change of consciousness throughout the world associated with the International Women's Year was not only brought about by the awareness of women's liberation movements in the west, but also by the realization that in national liberation movements in Indochina and Africa women, in



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