Pastoralists have been largely excluded from the discourses of policy making and development because of their non sedantarized ways of living. Furthermore, a pastoral woman who is in constant interaction with the forests, animals and land, as part of their profession and life world fails to find a mention in literature and policies. The kind of labour they perform, their interaction with animals and ecology and being in constant movement opens up ways to understand the role of women in the pastoral economy. This further allows us to add to the complexity of discourse on women and work and look at it from the perspective of non sedantarized populations. Therefore, ISST decided to undertake the research titled Understanding Pastoral Women's work: an exploratory study in April 2021. The research was placed in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh where we were engaging largely with Gaddi and Hindu Gujjar pastoral communities.
This research opened up several questions related to, pastoral women and their work, care work which transcends the human and changing meanings of work in pastoral communities.
Our relating with pastoral women and understanding their work has gone through multiple phases. We could point out before going to the field how pastoral woman's work does not find itself within the women and work discourse but it was after understanding the relationship of women with animals, we could understand the nature of "work" which a pastoral woman does. The work transcends beyond the binaries of paid and unpaid, human and non-human and, self and ecology. It helped us to look at the being of a pastoral woman in more complex and intricate ways.