Security experts have argued that women's organisations in north-east India are fragmented, fail to reach out across tribal identities, and lack agency independent of the militants, with whom they have links. This article will address these assumptions by investigating the evolution of women's activism in a conflict-ridden district of Assam, where "mothers" have appeared on the political stage. It asks what the new appeal to "motherhood" actually means, and whether "motherhood" is a vehicle for women's empowerment. How do the "mothers", as political activists, relate to conventional gender roles; how do they interact with previous generations of women's organisations; and how do they relate to other political actors?
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