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Gender and Development in South Asia: Can Practice Keep Up with Theory?
Canadian Journal of Development Studies (2005)
  • Bipasha Baruah, Western University
This paper documents how institutions, both governmental and non-governmental, have responded to South Asian women’s economic needs over the past three decades. It analyses how these interventions have evolved with regard to the different theoretical approaches to gender and development, ranging from the welfare, efficiency, and anti-poverty approaches of the 1970s and 1980s to the more recent empowerment, rights-, and capabilities-based approaches of the 1990s and the new millennium. The author emphasizes that most governmental interventions in South Asia, regardless of political persuasion, have been preoccupied with employment and income-generating schemes as the means of empowering women. As a result, measures of women’s empowerment and gender justice continue to revolve around employment and labour force participation and not the alleviation of the burden of domestic labour, increased political participation, or equal property rights. Barring some notable exceptions, NGOs have also shown unwillingness to involve themselves in controversial issues. This despite the continued assertion by scholars and practitioners that in addition to economic opportunities, women need not just more potent political power but also independent and equal rights in land and property ownership to be able to empower themselves and gain equal footing with men in society. The author concludes by asserting that at least in South Asia, the theoretical discourses on gender and development appear to be more than a few steps ahead of policy and practice.
  • gender,
  • development,
  • women in development,
  • human capabilities,
  • South Asia
Publication Date
Citation Information
Bipasha Baruah. "Gender and Development in South Asia: Can Practice Keep Up with Theory?" Canadian Journal of Development Studies (2005)
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