Conditions of Tribal women in India

  • The tribal women, constitute like any other social group, about half of the total population. The tribal women, as women in all social groups, are more illiterate than men.
  • Role of women is not only of importance in economic activities, but her role in non-economic activities is equally important. The tribal women work very hard, in some cases even more than the men.
  • Mitra and Singh write that discrimination against women, occupational differentiation, and emphasis on status and hierarchical social ordering that characterise the predominant Hindu culture are generally absent among the tribal groups.
  • Bhasin (2007) also writes that though tribes too have son preference, they do not discriminate against girls by female infanticide or sex determination tests.
  • The status of tribal women can be judged mainly by the roles they play in society. Their roles are determined to a large extent through the system of descent.
  • Most of the tribes in India follow a patrilinear system. There are exceptional cases like the Khasi, Jaintia, Garo and Lalung of Meghalaya in the North-East who follow the matrilineal system. The Mappilas of Kerala too are a matrilineal community.
  • Since women in the tribal communities’ toil hard, they are considered to be assets. Not surprisingly, the practice of bride price during marriages is quite common among them.
  • The tribal women in the North-East were famous for their weaving skills. Almost every tribal girl used to learn weaving at home. They usually used to weave in their leisure time and for self-consumption.
  • Tribal women as such enjoy very little control over immovable property. They hardly ever inherit land, particularly in the patrilineal societies.