The Women’s Fund (October 1997)



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Coolie women have the double burden of being poor and underpaid agricultural labourers on the one hand, and women in a sexist, male dominated society on the other. Single mothers — young widows and those who have been deserted by their husbands — have the added burden of raising young children.

The Coolie Sangha has, through its policy of positive discrimination in favour of women, used various instruments to strengthen the position of Coolie women. Though a lot has been achieved at the sociopolitical and cultural level, there still is a lot that needs to be done at the individual, economic front for those who feel stranded.

The chief instrument that the Coolie Sangha has been able to establish in favour of landless female headed households are village level Mahila Meetings. These are genuinely independent, democratic and gender specific platforms for selfdetermination. The greatest achievement of the Mahila Meetings is that they have been able to instil a gender sensitivity into the Coolie Sangha as a whole.

This needs to now be supported with a financial wherewithal that is not just token or symbolic.



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