The status of women with reference to tribal India is hardly reduced by any disabling stigma or inferiority attached to women although periods of impurity in the monthly cycles are widely recognized, observed and feared. Within the caste system however as we move up towards higher castes, the position of women becomes subordinate, servile and sometimes hopeless. Anthropologists have good reasons to believe that woman as the child bearing; nursing half of humanity must have some influence on her status. The present study deals with the transhumant Gaddi population of Bharmour (Chamba district, Himachal Pradesh) that travel from one ecological zone to another in winter and summer. For about three to four months of winter’s heavy snowfall, the Gaddis generally migrate to the lower hills and plains along with their flock of sheep and goats. This transhumant way of life nurtured by ecological factors has affected the population structure. It may be concluded as it is observed that ecological and environmental factors existing in Bharmour have given to Gaddi women a special economic power, an elevated social status and authority almost equal to men. However, there are certain domains in which men continue to dominate, as is culturally required. Moreover, community authority still is in the hands of men. There is a kind of duality observed here. Men dominate in public and community affairs and continue to play the role of the head of the family and bread winner, women enjoy greater say in family life, great deal of social freedom and several of their actions are condoned/tolerated.
Key words: Transhumant, decision making, division of labour, freedom of movement, government initiatives.
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