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1. Indigenous Gender Relations and the impact of migration, industry and globalisation 

ConvenorsEmma Gilberthorpe (e.gilberthorpe@uea.ac.uk) and Maria Abranches (m.abranches@uea.ac.uk)

This panel will examine the impact of globalisation on indigenous gender relations with a specific concern for how diverse indigenous systems respond to, articulate and are affected by various processes of globalisation. We examine the impacts of localised processes of industrialisation – focusing on issues such as gender disadvantage, inheritance, resource access; and of migration – focusing on remittances, identity and power. The aim of the panel is to draw some wider conclusions about the impact of industrial expansion, migration and globalisation more broadly on issues of gender inequality.

 

2. Education/learning and changing aspirations

Convenors: Sheila Aikman (sheila.aikman@uea.ac.uk) and Anna Robinson-Pant (a.robinson-pant@uea.ac.uk)

This panel will examine gender relations and gendered aspirations for education in the current national and international policy context of intense student testing  and the production of league tables in the formal sector, alongside increasing recognition that informal and lifelong learning are key to gaining new knowledge and skills to engage in rapidly transforming economies and technologies. Expectations for education (usually meaning schooling) to promote national economic development, lead to access to the job market and increase individual productivity, has today translated into a focus on how to achieve improved learning, measured in terms of testing through a narrow curriculum of mathematics and language/literacy (World Bank 2010; UNESCO 2014).

In this Panel we will consider the gap experienced by many girls and young women between their aspirations and expectations of education/schooling and their lives and opportunities outside of school.  A policy focus on ‘girls’ as a marginalised group is still strong, but there is increasing recognition of ways in which girls’ educational opportunities, aspirations and experiences are influenced by the interplay of structural conditions and inequalities linked to their ethnicity, ability or economic situation. There is also growing understanding of learning outside formal institutions - how adult women and men have different learning opportunities in everyday life due to gendered expectations around mobility, migration, employment and social spaces. The Panel will also ask about the ways in which gendered relations and identities are constructed in and through educational discourses and practices, and how structural inequalities can be maintained and challenged considering curriculum design and implementation, pedagogical practices and relationships.  

 

3. "Gender Equality" norms, moblilisation and policy change

Ben Jones (B.W.Jones@uea.ac.uk) and Nitya Rao (n.rao@uea.ac.uk)

a) "Gender equality" as a global norms among different donors

Convenor: Ben Jones (B.W.Jones@uea.ac.uk)

The proposed panel looks at how different aid donors, old and new, each with different institutional histories, approach the issue of gender equality.  The papers in the panel are organised around the following premises:

 

  1. That international development cooperation is increasingly characterized by heterogeneous development organizations.
  2. That international development aid is subject to increasing attempts to organize, align, and coordinate the ways in which ‘development' is conceived and practiced.
  3. That gender equality, as part of the Millennium Development Goals and beyond, is particularly affected by the heterogeneous nature of development organizations.

 

The panel brings together new comparative research on gender activities in very different old and new donor organizations, including the World Bank, the Gates Foundation, OXFAM and Islamic Relief.   These organizations have publicly endorsed or supported the Millennium Development Goals, at least in theory declaring adherence to global norms of gender equality and women's empowerment. At the same time, they also reflect the diversity of development cooperation, and as such present different ‘local' interpretations of global norms.

 

b)  "Gender Equality" as policy and practice among NGOs and foundations

ConvenorsBen Jones (B.W.Jones@uea.ac.uk) and Lata Narayanaswamy (L.Narayanaswamy@leeds.ac.uk)

This panel continues the themes of the opening panel, and extends the discussion into looking at the work of NGOs and foundations.  Key concerns will be with the professionalization of ‘gender’ within organisations, and the different biographies of different development organisations.  There are three themes:

 

1. Gender as a sphere of contestation within NGOs, where different actors within organisations take different views on the subject of gender as both policy and practise. 

2. Gender as something that is professionalised and instrumentalised around the “traditional” issue of health and the public sector

3. Gender as something taken up by foundations and their “new” development encounters with the hard sciences and the private sector

 

Each of the three papers draws from a particular case study.  While the cases differ in focus – two looking at international NGOs, one looking at a major foundation – they draw on similar bodies of evidence.   A central concern is the way gender becomes a terrain of activity that has to make sense of organisational cultures, while also coming back, again and again, to the idea of gender as something more radical.

 

c) Gender(ed) Knowledge and Professionalisation in Development: Interrogating dominant 'ways of knowing'

Convenor: Lata Narayanaswamy (L.Narayanaswamy@leeds.ac.uk)

Gender and development, initially a subversive response to the gender-blindness of mainstream development, has itself become a transnational discourse and has, as a result, generated its own elite elements (see for example, Alvarez, 1998; Amadiume, 2000; Monasterios, 2007). And whilst concerns around the professionalisation of development discourse, and the concomitant bureaucratization its uptake in mainstream discourse has entailed continue to be debated (see for example Goetz and Sandler, 2007; Mukhopadhyay, 2009; 2013), there is a need to reflect on the nature of current gender and development discourse and practice, and its relative inclusivity/exclusivity to different individuals/groups occupying diverse discursive and/or geographical locations. The professionalisation of gender and development discourse has, as Nagar (2006) contends, tended to align itself with neoliberal development imperatives. There is also a concomitant tendency to exclude, as the Sangtin Writers (2006) have suggested, (perhaps most notably through the professionalisation of the discourse and the use of the English language) those people on the margins who most often suffer the starkest material consequences of (gender-blind) development shortcomings.

The issues that this panel seeks to engage are: Whose knowledge counts in the discourse and practice of gender and development? What does the ‘professionalisation’ of gender and development discourse and practice look like? What mechanisms exist to tap into and/or codify ‘alternative’ feminist, subaltern or marginalised views, narratives or paradigms, if indeed these exist and/or could be found?

This panel would seek both theoretical and methodological contributions that engage with notions of subaltern, feminist, and/or alternative development knowledge(s).

 

d) Feminist mobilisation and Policy Change

Convenors: Nitya Rao (n.rao@uea.ac.uk) and Paola Cagna (cagna@unrisd.org)

The past two decades have seen the rise of gender equality as policy and advocacy priority across the world, at national and international levels: violence against women, domestic workers' rights, access to land and property, women's political participation, SRHRs and many other issues have been widely advocated and often states have responded to such claims with new policies and laws. However, women's advocacy and mobilisation has often focused on certain issues, while there is little advocacy on others, despite their centrality to women's lives and well-being. Again, some countries may be leaders in some areas of gender equality, but laggards in others. For instance, in some cases, it has been easier to adopt quotas systems in national assemblies than to challenge customary practices and laws governing marriage, divorce, property rights and inheritance.

The road to achieve the adoption of new legal frameworks sees state actors – parties, politicians, ministers, femocrats, government officers - negotiating over the content of new policies. It also involves non-state actors such as women's movements and other civil society organisations, as well as social media, in a long process of negotiation and articulation of the key claims to be advocated in the policy arena. Little, however, is known about such processes of claims-making. This panel aims at exploring some of these processes and negotiations: how are claims articulated? Why are certain issues left out from the policy agenda of movements and states, while others become priorities? What are the factors and conditions under which non-state actors, including social media, can effectively trigger and influence policy change?

 

4. Gender Inequality, Consumption and Changing Identities

a) Consuming gender

Convenor: Cecile Jackson (cecile.jackson@uea.ac.uk)

Gender analysis frameworks have prioritised relations of production and reproduction in approaching gender inequalities. This panel however considers relations of consumption and how these reflect and influence gender inequalities.

In anthropology, consumption is analysed through the manner in which goods speak of identities and social orders, and things express social relations, whilst the processes and entailments of commoditisation are problematized. How then are gender identities and hierarchies expressed through goods? How are gender relations experienced and manifested through goods? How do money and markets refigure gender relations? Where people are increasingly familiar with the consumption of global others, are goods a principal means through which exclusion is now experienced, and how does this vary with gender identities?

Contributions are sought which investigate the changing character of consumption in developing countries and analyse the implications of this for gender identities, relations and well-being outcomes. 

 

b) Intersectionality and inequalities

Convenors: Cecile Jackson (cecile.jackson@uea.ac.uk) and Nitya Rao (n.rao@uea.ac.uk)

How gender identities interact with those of class, age, religion and ethnicity in polarising worlds is the focus of this panel. We are interested in the fragmentations of gender categories by other identities, and the solidarities built across them. And we wonder about how the experiences and perceptions of women and men navigating inequalities, finding opportunities for social mobility and building well-being are refiguring these multiple identities and their relative salience in everyday lives. The old class-gender studies of the 1980s have diversified to include other intersecting identities, and these how interactions shape the experience of inequality feels increasingly relevant, and challenging to policy.

 

d) Rethinking the politics of promoting gender equality: the importance of informal institutions and political settlements   

Convenors: Sohela Nazneen (sohela.nazneen@gmail.com) and Sam Hickey (Sam.hickey@manchester.ac.uk)

Recent advances within feminist political theory and development studies suggest strong grounds for rethinking the politics of promoting gender equity. This panel sets out new thinking on how ‘informal institutions’  and ‘political settlements’ shape the ways in which women gain political inclusion, how they are able to exercise agency and how gender equity concerns are both promoted and resisted. Political settlements, which reflect the balance of power between contending social groups, shape the ways in which both formal and informal institutions develop and function and provide the incentive structures that shape elite behaviour. The value of these new approaches will be illustrated through the findings of a comparative research project on how political settlements shaped the promotion and implementation of legislation against domestic violence in Bangladesh, Ghana, Rwanda and Uganda. The findings strongly suggest that different kinds of political settlements, which in developing countries in particular include a powerful role for ‘informal institutions’, create distinctive opportunities and constraints for the promotion of gender equity policies. This has important implications for all key political and policy actors involved in this, particularly women’s movements at international and national levels, women/feminist MPs and bureaucrats and international donors.

 

5. Labour markets, microfinance and women's empowerment

Sara Connolly (sara.connolly@uea.ac.uk) and Maren Duvendack (m.duvendack@uea.ac.uk)

a)      Gender and inequality in a (post) crisis global economy

ConvenorsSara Connolly (sara.connolly@uea.ac.uk) and Ruth Pearson (r.pearson@leeds.ac.uk)

The contradictions between post crisis economic growth and the rise in income and class inequality has important implications for the (de)reconstitution of gender relations.  Whilst the IFIs focus on increasing women's labour force participation as a route to economic empowerment for women and generating economic growth, it is clear that other factors including labour market (de)regulation, migration, employment insecurity, the withdrawal of the state's role in social security and protection, the rise of self-employment and the increasing challenges of child and elderly care offer substantial challenges to the achievement of gender equality as national economies and international economic relations are transformed in response to the recent "credit - crunch" and subsequent austerity policies.  Papers are invited which address any aspect of this topic.

 

b)   Microfinance, women's empowerment and poverty reduction

Convenor: Maren Duvendack (m.duvendack@uea.ac.uk)

Microfinance has often been heralded as a silver bullet to reduce poverty and empower women. More than a hundred million people living in poverty, mainly women, have been given access to loans, savings, insurances, remittances and other financial services. Given the explosive growth of the sector over the last two decades numerous critics have risen to prominence debating the impact of microfinance on poverty reduction as well as the extent to which targeted financial services can empower women. In recent years the emphasis of microfinance has moved away from its main development rationale of reducing poverty and empowering women to a more inclusive finance agenda. This panel will discuss the implications of this changing environment microfinance now operates in regarding gender relations and its renewed potential for poverty reduction.

 

6. Environmental/climatic change and gendered inequalities

Convenor: Geraldine Terry (g.terry@uea.ac.uk)

On multiple levels, gendered inequalities permeate the social dynamics which shape responsibilities, vulnerability and adaptive capacity in relation to environmental/climatic change.  We are interested in empirical studies, from a range of disciplines, which enhance understanding of the complex interactions among gendered inequalities and environmental/climatic change in development contexts.  They could address the following questions: In what ways are gendered economic and social inequalities implicated in environmental/climatic change at different scales?  How do they shape household and community-level coping and adaptation choices in low-income settings, and who are the winners and losers?  Does the impact of environmental/climate change inevitably deepen existing inequalities, or are there any examples of transformational responses involving reduced inequality?  What parts do gender ideologies and contestations, subjective gendered identities and the social institutions that inform everyday practices play in these processes?  Papers which concentrate on developing, strengthening or challenging theoretical frameworks are also invited.

 

7.  Gender and Violence

Convenor: Colette Harris (colette.harris@soas.ac.uk)

Today's increasing inequalities appear to produce attitudes and encourage behaviour, particularly among men, that facilitate participation in violence. This has been shown to be strongly tied to masculinities. The most unequal settings tend to privilege the most aggressive forms of masculinity and the inequalities manifest themselves further in a significant tendency to impose harsh penalties for belonging to a minority racial/ethnic/religious/sexual group as well as strong class barriers. While women commit violence at a much lower level than men, studies suggest that inequalities also play a role here although not in the same way; to date insufficient research on gender and women's violence has been carried out to draw any conclusions about the relationship of femininity and violence.

Contributions are sought that – from a range of disciplinary perspectives – investigate the influence of the global increase in inequalities on the relationship of violence to masculinities and femininities in public/street and/or private/domestic settings and analyse the implications of this for gender identities and relations.