In rural Sri Lanka, women constitute an important part of the agrarian economies contributing to both subsistence economy and commercial agriculture. However, changes introduced throughout time such as the introduction of large-scale commercial agriculture and increase in the implementation of labour flexibility has impacted on the role played by women in agrarian economies. These changes have contributed to change the gender parity among agrarian communities and to redefine genderstratified labour hierarchies. Currently, women are also re-formulating their relationships with agriculture by transitioning between subsistent agriculture and commercial agriculture shifting their roles from capital owners to wage earners and vis a vis. In doing so, they also re-formulate their relationship with the environment where they perceive the subsistence economy as more environmentally friendly to large-scale commercial agriculture which they see as harming both the environment and people’s health. In this given context using Monaragala District in Sri Lanka as a case study, this abstract looks at how rural agrarian women reconceptualise their connection with the environment arguing that the changing nature of women’s livelihood activities relates to how they connect themselves to the environment which also characterises their political engagements and activism in agrarian communities.
“K.H.G.B. Padmasiri is working with the Open University in Sri Lanka in the Department of Social Studies as a lecturer. She is working in the Politics and International Relations unit. Her areas of research are gender, political economy, labour, development, political participation and conflict.”