Status of Tribal Women in Tamil Nadu, India


  • V. Karthihai Selvi Assistant Professor of Commerce, Ayya Nadar Janaki Ammal College (Autonomous), Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu, India
  • Muthupandi Project Assistant, ICSSR-IMPRESS Project, Ayya Nadar Janaki Ammal College (Autonomous), Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu, India



Tribal Women, Tribal Population, Tamil Nadu


In Tamil Nadu, there are six tribal communities according to the Tamil Nadu forest department website, namely, Toda, Kota, Kurumbas, Irulur, Paniyan and Kattunayakan. They are identified as Primitive Tribal Communities. These six tribal groups are natives to the Nilgiris. The members of this community are short, have black skin, and have protruding foreheads. They are hunting and collecting forest produce for their means of living. They usually never mix with other tribal groups. They still follow black magic and sorcery. They speak mixture of Dravidian languages. Kattunayakans are experts in collecting honey. The Paniyas worked as agricultural labourers. The Paniyas have only a crude idea of religion. They worship deity ‘Kali’ and banyan tree. They speak Paniya language, which belongs to the Dravidian family. They used to marry more than one woman provided if they can afford them. Another tribes, Irulas are collecting  minor forest products. Some of them are also involved in looking after the cattles of others. They speak Irula, which belongs to the Dravidian family. Irulas are involved in healing practices and they are specialists in traditional herbal medicines.  Traditionally, Irulas involved in snake and rat catching. Education and economic empowerment of tribal women can be measured through the power they have over financial resources to earn income and their per capita income, access to education, access and availability of professional opportunities and participation in economic decision making and their access to political opportunities. In Tamil Nadu, nearly 50% of the tribal population are illiterate. Among the literate groups, women constitute more percentage compared to men. This shows the positive turn towards the efforts on tribal women education. But efforts must be taken to make the entire population literate. Hence, it is essential for the central and state governments to concentrate their efforts more towards the illiterate group of the tribal population for ensuring overall development of the economy.


Census of India 2011.

Policy Note, Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare Department, Demand No.4, Government of Tamil Nadu, 2014.




How to Cite

Karthihai Selvi, V., & Muthupandi. (2021). Status of Tribal Women in Tamil Nadu, India. Asian Review of Social Sciences, 10(1), 16–21.