Participation of Women in Insurgent Groups

Women cadres in ULFA include active combatants who play different roles. The ratio of women cadres to men is 2:10. According to a study by the Northeast Network, it came to be known that women combatants are often not seen as important contributors and participants in combat and often do not receive equal treatment at the negotiating table.

According to a respondent in the study, many girls did not have the slightest idea what it was all about. Some came for adventure; sometimes parents willingly offered their daughters to the outfit but most of the women (respondent) join the outfit voluntarily, though a case of forceful induction also emerged during the course of study. Though they were all enthusiastic, only a few were assigned responsible roles. Patriarchal perceptions regarding gender division of labour, discriminatory roles and responsibilities had strongly permeated into the outfit.

Women cadres did valiant work as messengers and carriers of arms— the responsibilities which were difficult for men to carry out. One respondent said that when operation Bajrang came there was helplessness all around the camps. She began her journey from Sadiya to Dhubri crossing 55 check point gates. Women have also performed the role of shielding their male compatriots. Despite the critical roles played by women within the outfit, the recognition given to them has been nominal; they were never given high ranks or designations.4

(Armed struggle, identity and the state – experiences of women in conflict situation in Assam, India - A report by Northeast Network, 2014)

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