Citizenship Rights and Women’s Roles in Development in Post-conflict Nepal


Pant, Bijan, and Kay Standing. 2011. “Citizenship Rights and Women’s Roles in Development in Post-conflict Nepal.” Gender & Development 19 (3): 409–21. doi:10.1080/13552074.2011.625656.

Authors: Bijan Pant, Kay Standing


Despite human rights abuses, the ten-year conflict in Nepal brought aspects of empowerment to women, changing their role in the family and community, as women became active outside the home, challenged the security forces, and began to assert their rights as citizens. Drawing on a research project into the participation of women in community development projects in three areas of Nepal, the present article examines how far development agencies in the post-conflict period have succeeded in furthering women’s citizenship rights, and in giving voice to women’s concerns and participation. It argues that development organisations and agencies have continued to operate mostly without including the voices of women, and women are disappointed by these non-participatory and top-down development models, which are leaving women’s status as second-class citizens unchallenged. Women are consequently exploring alternatives. The article uses examples from the field and interviews and focus groups with marginalised women and non-government organisation workers to suggest ways in which development agencies can work with participatory models to advance women’s citizenship rights. Given the diversity of social groups and peoples and gender relations in Nepal, the present article will also raise critical questions about the form and content of women’s participation, and the intersections of gender, class, caste, and ethnicity on citizenship rights.


  • Bijan and Standing analyze the ways in which women’s quest for citizenship in both a formal / legal sense and an informal / practical sense were made manifest in post-conflict Nepal. Although great atrocities were committed against women by both sides of the conflict, the civil war was a source of empowerment for some women, particularly for the large numbers of women who joined the Maoist movement, and there were hopes that this new agency would translate into greater citizenship rights for women in the post conflict period and that this, in turn, would give women greater agency in local community management institutions (over resources such as water). The authors’ approach was to approach this issue obliquely by investigating whether participation in NGO-sponsored activities (which play a large role in Nepal’s economy) could challenge women’s marginalized societal status. Challenging characterizations of women as second-class citizens and empowering women as active agents of change instead of objects of development was found to prompt a marked increase in the participation of women not only in NGO’s, but also in neighboring communities.


“Women articulated how NGOs contributed to the problem by employing top-down methods of project planning, informed by ideas about development and women’s economic and social roles which focus on the worth of women’s labour to the development process, rather than seeing women themselves as actors who can bring valuable contributions to the consultation and decision-making process.” (416)

Topics: Caste, Citizenship, Class, Development, Ethnicity, Gender, Women, NGOs, Post-Conflict, Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Nepal

Year: 2011

Rural Women and Irrigation: Patriarchy, Class, and the Modernizing State in South India


Ramamurthy, Priti. 1991. “Rural Women and Irrigation: Patriarchy, Class, and the Modernizing State in South India.” Society and Natural Resources 4 (1): 5-22.

Author: Priti Ramamurthy


Irrigation is the major strategy used by “modernizing” states in India and throughout the Third World to raise agricultural productivity and surpluses. This paper shows that irrigation is not gender-neutral, focusing on how canal irrigation affects women’s work and lives in Andhra Pradesh, India. First, it delineates the particular consequences for women of state-sponsored irrigation. It then focuses on women of different classes and castes and shows how the economic and physical burdens of agricultural intensification have fallen most heavily on women of agricultural labor and marginal cultivator households. It concludes by suggesting policy measures that can meet poor women’s basic livelihood needs and points out that only working class women’s organizations will be able to change to preoccupation of the state with modernization, the inequitable distribution of resources, and the stranglehold of patriarchy.

Keywords: agricultural labor, class, patriarchy, rural women

Topics: Caste, Class, Agriculture, Economies, Economic Inequality, Poverty, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation, Livelihoods Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 1991

Engendering Grassroots Democracy: Research, Training, and Networking for Women in Local Self-Governance in India


Sekhon, Joti. 2006. “Engendering Grassroots Democracy: Research, Training, and Networking for Women in Local Self-Governance in India.” NWSA Journal 18 (2): 101–22. doi:10.1353/nwsa.2006.0041.

Author: Joti Sekhon


The author discusses efforts to promote women's effective participation in electoral politics in rural India as an illustration of feminist politics and participatory democracy. She argues that feminist rethinking of politics and democracy can catalyze women's effective participation and challenge the structures of patriarchy that limit political action and social mobility. The opportunity for women's widespread participation in local elections came as a result of the 73rd Amendment to the Indian Constitution in 1993, reserving 33 percent of elected seats in village councils for female candidates. That alone, however, is not enough, as women are limited by a variety of social, cultural, economic, and political factors, such as traditional gendered expectations of the role and position of women in the family and community, caste and class inequalities, lack of education, and lack of knowledge of the laws. In this article, the author analyzes the role of social movement organizations engaged in participatory action research, training, advocacy, and networking with and for women at the grassroots level. Detailed exposition of the work of Aalochana, a feminist organization in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, provides insight into the possibilities and challenges of feminist politics to engender grassroots democracy.

Keywords: feminist politics, grassroots democracy, participatory democracy, women in politics, women's community-based activism, women and political participation in India, women in panchayati raj or local self-governance in India, feminist networks, gender and grassroots politics

Topics: Caste, Class, Democracy / Democratization, Education, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Governance, Elections, Political Participation Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2006

Land, Livestock, and Livelihoods: Changing Dynamics of Gender, Caste, and Ethnicity in a Nepalese Village


Thomas-Slayter, Barbara, and Nina Bhatt. 1994. "Land, Livestock, and Livelihoods: Changing Dynamics of Gender, Caste, and Ethnicity in a Nepalese Village." Human Ecology 22 (4): 467-494.

Authors: Barbara Thomas-Slayter, Nina Bhatt


Over the past 10 years, Ghusel VDC, Lalitpur District has moved from primarily subsistence agriculture into the wider cash economy aided by the Small Farmers' Development Program (SFDP), which provides credit to farmers mainly for the purchase of buffalo for milk production, and by the National Dairy Corporation, which supports local dairy cooperatives.  Analysis reveals that buffalo-keeping and milk sales are increasing the well-being of many households, while at the same time creating new inequalities in gender roles and responsibilities, greater inequities between Brahmin and Tamang residents in Ghusel, and placing pressures on the ecosystem for increased supplies of fodder and fuelwood. Evidence suggests that there is critical, need for attention to the social, and particularly gender-based, implications of maintaining livestock for milk sales and to the ecological underpinnings of this livelihood system.

Keywords: agriculture, livestock, land

Topics: Agriculture, Caste, Economies, Economic Inequality, Ethnicity, Gender, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Livelihoods, Rights, Land Rights Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Nepal

Year: 1994


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