It is widely understood that the challenges facing poor or marginalised groups are invariably complicated by gender, particularly in patriarchal societies which exist in South Asia. This year, South Asia @ LSE contributors have explored the gendered impacts of natural disasters, weighed up the pros and cons of initiatives designed to help women and girls and discussed how to improve policies which have a disproportionately negative impact on women. Below is a round up the most popular articles in 2016.
As the chaos following the Government of India’s surprising decision to take Rs.500 and Rs.1000 notes out of circulation continues, LSE alumna Mitali Nikore highlights how the move is impacting women, and offers policy suggestions on how the negative effects can be mitigated.
For many women and girls the white, Western liberal ideal of girlhood is neither possible nor desired
Effective feminism requires structural changes to political and financial institutions to improve the wellbeing of women and girls. Drawing on her research in Pakistan, postdoctoral scholar Shenila Khoja-Moolji writes that we should be careful not to assume that there is a single ‘ideal’ of girlhood that everyone should aspire to, nor should we allow feminism to be reduced to window dressing that can be used to transform girls into flexible, low-paid and underemployed workers .
The Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act, which came into force in February this year, marks a progressive shift in domestic violence legislation, but it has also prompted a backlash from powerful religious political parties. Lawyer and researcher Menaal Munshey writes that for the Act to be effective, the government must wholeheartedly back the liberal ideology it has espoused and avoid allowing the religious right to dominate the political narrative.
Women in disaster: Gendered vulnerabilities and intersecting identities in the wake of the Nepali earthquakes
One year on from the devastating earthquakes in Nepal, LSE MSc student Sangita Thebe Limbu discusses how the disaster has disproportionately affected women. She highlights how gendered vulnerability is further complicated by other factors such as age, caste and marital status, underlining how pre-existing discriminatory practices and inequalities are being exacerbated and even reinforced in the reconstruction process.
As the frequency and severity of natural disasters increases due to climate change, thousands of Bangladeshis are being forced to adapt their homes and livelihoods to try and minimise the damage. In a recent study, BISRT researchers Md. Habibur Rahman and Kurshed Alam looked specifically at the impact of cyclones on women in coastal communities. They found that although women and adolescent girls are the most vulnerable in disaster situations, they also play a key role in both disaster risk reduction and rehabilitation efforts.
You can catch up with all this year’s Gender articles via the archives here.
Cover image: After a storm. Credit: BBC World Service Bangladesh CC BY-NC 2.0
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