Abstract

In the Himalaya, due to constraints of subsistence economy a large proportion of youth male population out-migrates in search of livelihood. Women are therefore considered as primary resource developers, and they make implicit contribution towards mountain economy. However, women enjoy a highly restricted ownership of natural resources and limited access to the opportunities of social and economic development, and this further leads to the feminization of poverty. Moreover, depletion of natural resources and climate change have further accelerated the trends of male out-migration which have enhanced women’s roles, and responsibilities and increased their workload rendering them more vulnerable to environmental changes. However, this study found that the increasing trends of male out-migration not only provided stability to rural economies in terms of remittances, but also marginally improved women’s access to education, development opportunities, leadership, decision-making power, natural resource management and growing market. These changes are contributing towards social, economic and political empowerment of rural women. Furthermore, women have developed critical traditional knowledge to understand, visualize and respond to environmental changes including the climate change. Hence, it is highly imperative to improve rural livelihood in rural areas, and extend the good practices of women’s mainstreaming in other areas across the Himalayan mountains.

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