A+| A| A-

Mahila Mandals in Gender Politics

Mahila mandals, the traditional local women's organisations, have tremendous potential to address women's strategic gender needs. In rural areas they are increasingly acting as vehicles of resistance that enable women to enter the public domain. A study of some mahila mandals in Thane, Maharashtra.

‘Mahila mandals’ or women’s clubs are traditional local  organisations of women. At the most basic level, mahila mandals are informal community level associations of women who come together in celebration, sorrow or crisis. While there are mahila mandals in urban areas as well as villages, it is the latter that are the focus of this paper. Historically, women in rural communities have come together during festivals, births, deaths, weddings, local functions (such as inauguration of a school building), visit of a political leader, or crises such as health epidemics, or water shortage.

This paper is an attempt to analyse whether mahila mandals are traditional associations that consolidate gender inequality or are movements for resistance that enable women to enter into the public domain more successfully. The illustrative ethnologies of successful mahila mandals in the rural areas of Thane district in Maharashtra, contained in this paper, are based on my field experience in Thane. During the period 1993-96, I interviewed members of several women’s groups, local leaders, government functionaries and people’s elected representatives.

To read the full text Login

Get instant access

New 3 Month Subscription
to Digital Archives at

₹826for India

$50for overseas users

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

C P Bhambri believed that the task of social science, like all other sciences, was to arrive at the truth on the basis of well-established facts....

The COVID-19 pandemic may affect the financing opportunities for innovation. The revenue loss induced by the pandemic is likely to divert the...

When the goods and services tax was introduced in July 2017, states were given a revenue guarantee of 14% per annum on their GST revenue over the...

India’s public health system has struggled to cope with the COVID-19 crisis. Even before the pandemic, India’s public health infrastructure was...

The National Education Policy, 2020 unveiled finally seeks to usher in major structural reforms in higher education. Among many measures,...

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown led to the closure of all markets in Manipur, including the Tribal Market Complex in Imphal East...

Coherent national strategies, backed by regional cooperation efforts, offer a way forward for economic recovery in South Asia, which is rapidly...

Sections 357 and 357-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 lay down the procedure for granting compensation to the victims of crime. Under the...

The COVID-19 pandemic has provocatively challenged the extant paradigm of development whose theoretical underpinning is derived from the...

The first report of the Fifteenth Finance Commission has allayed many fears that arose after the notification of the terms of reference of the...

Back to Top