Rural Women, Agrarian Capitalism and the Environment in Monaragala

Buddhima Padmasiri

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.”


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

Conference Managers

Please contact the team at Conference Design with any questions regarding the conference.

Photo Credits: Visit Victoria

© 2019 Conference Design Pty Ltd