ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Women, Leverage and Peasant Revolutionary Organisations

Vast scholarship has found women in revolutionary organisations lacking in bargaining potential, being accorded subordinate positions, and facing sexual violence. This paper refutes such claims of homogeneity in women’s experiences, instead showing, under several structural conditions, that women’s groups exercised power, becoming central to guerrilla movement resilience. Using the case of the Maoists in two districts in Telangana, the author finds that the presence of relatively autonomous women’s groups in the villages generated a collective structural leverage—where women could steer movement actions, bargain for their demands to be met, and influence movement trajectory. Women have become essential to the guerrillas in delivering meaningful social change in the villages and creating robust support systems that can sustain an armed movement, while at the same time generating bargaining power for women.
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