Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1941, with a B.A. from Carleton College and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley (1973), Gail Omvedt has been a citizen of India since 1982, and a scholar-activist, working with new social movements, in particular women's groups and farmer's organizations. She has been actively involved with movements for women's empowerment on several fronts: in fighting for benefits for abandoned women; in helping women of farming families to win rights to land and other property; in campaigns for representation in local elected bodies; and in increasing the role of women in the development of a sustainable agriculture. She has also been a part of the independent farmers' movement and of anti-cast and environmental campaigns.
Her academic writing includes numerous books and articles on class, caste and gender issues, most notably: We shall Smash this prison: Indian Women in Struggle (1979), Reinventing Revolution: New Social Movements in India (1993), Gender and Technology: Emerging Asian Visions (1994), Dalits and The democratic revolution (1994), Dalit Visions: the Anticaste movement and Indian Culutural Identity (1994)
In recent years she has been working as a consulting sociologist on gender, environment and rural development, for UNDP, NOVIB and other institutions.