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Gender and violence in South Asia

Aug 26, 2009

SID-SAN combined series of case studies on Women and Political Conflict and Well-being in South Asia explores the political disruptions in the region and its impact on women. It highlights the need for engaging rights groups with women’s well-being and mobilising them to advance their own rights and concerns.

Women and Political Conflict and Well-being in South Asia: An edited collection of case studies

Publisher: SID, March 2009

The Society for International Development – South Asia Network’s (SID-SAN), an influential group of civil society leaders has worked on political conflict, women and well-being in South Asia for years.

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The initiative aimed to link the bigger picture of the conflict to the responses and perceptions of the women who are involved in the conflict.

Conflict is understood to mean not only political conflict such as the insurgency in Nepal or border conflicts, or state conflict such as in Kashmir or communal conflicts in Gujarat but also place based conflict over natural resources – land, water, forests and development projects like dams, mines, etc., which lead to displacement and consequently a clearly dissembled impact on women.

This publication aims to highlight the political mobilization of these women’s groups to the development community and in so doing help support the on-going networking and alliance around the different peace processes.

Gender oppression and violence is now a noted concern in many of the conflicts.

It is not only the immediate issue of the violence, horrific as it is, whether it is women or men who are the perpetrators, it is also the longer terms processes of economic, social and cultural disruption.

The impact of armed conflict and political violence on gender relations and gender equality are a key issue as is the growing concern at women’s human rights abuses.

In all forms of conflict in South Asia- military, ethnic, religious, tribal, caste and communal – gender relations have shifted. There is a clear shrinking of the space available for women to exercise their already limited rights.

Patriarchal and structural conditions also compound the complexity as women – actively or by default – participate in subjugating or limiting other women.

It is important for development and social justice organisations to support and to engage with the strategies women peace activists use to protect and defend each other and their well-being in and across communities and in some cases to help women take the advantage of conflict situations to advance their rights and their concerns.

The publication deals with chapters that highlight the struggles of people and women across South Asia are:

  • Karachi Women Reaching Across the Divide
  • Gujarat 2002 – When the State Declared War on its Citizens
  • Women in the Struggle for Food Security
  • Impact of Armed Conflict on Women’s Rights and Reproductive Health in Nepal
  • Seeking Justice in Processes of Conflict and Transition: Experiences of women in Sri Lanka
  • Women and Minorities in Conflict Resolution in Bangladesh

Each chapter:

  • Examines conflict that is politically induced;
  • Focuses on a contemporary conflict;
  • Explains the root causes not as a narrative but in terms of an analysis of the economic, social, cultural, political situations which have led to the responses of the communities;
  • Collects the impressions of women in communities that have been discriminated, marginalized, oppressed;
  • Analyzes the responses of women as active agents, looking at their engagement,interventions and attempts at resolution, traces how women are catalysts of change, make a space for themselves and take hold of their lives, and documents the women’s coping mechanisms.

While women are the central subject of the book, primarily because of the deep interest and commitment of the authors to women’s equal rights and empowerment, the book looks at the connections between the women’s movement and the respective struggles only to the extent that it has occurred in specific contexts.

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