Gender dynamics of female-headed households in rural Bihar, India: Reflections from the Koshi River basin

Changes in the economic and natural environment have a significant impact on women wherein they are found to be at a disadvantage due to gender-based discrimination and bias. This study focuses on the gender dynamics of female-headed households (FHHs) in rural Bihar, India, and spans 33 villages across 11 culturally and demographically diverse districts. The first phase of this study relied on the data collected under an ongoing research programme on socio-economic livelihood and policy analysis in the Koshi River basin. The data for the FHHs was extracted from a survey of 1,600 households. This gave a sample size of 264 FHHs. In the context of the Koshi region of Bihar, distressed male outmigration, driven by recurrent natural calamities and associated intensification in poverty and landlessness, has altered the scenario of work, survival, and food security of the women who are left behind. These women, thus, have become the de facto heads of rural households.