In collaboration with research organizations based in Guwahati, Manipur, Kolkata, Banares, Delhi and Kathmandu, the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) has started a project to study gender, empowerment and conflict in South Asia. The research is being carried out in Northeast India and Nepal. The aim of the project is to study and raise awareness about women’s empowerment and participation in governance and politics, with a focus on the challenges faced by women working in conflict settings. The research findings should be of direct relevance not only to academics and policy-makers, but also to stakeholders in peace processes dealing with issues of gender and empowerment.
The aim of this workshop is to discuss and share information about the efforts of women in Northeast India to promote peace and women’s empowerment, whether as activists, members of social movements, politicians, writers, or in any other capacity. The objective is to gain a better understanding of the efforts and challenges as seen by women themselves, to enable the researchers to ask more relevant and better questions when they carry out their fieldwork. Ultimately, this should help us to communicate to policy-makers how women in conflict settings can work for peace and empowerment, and what empowerment means to women in these contexts.
Questions to explore
- Is the conflict or post-conflict setting the best window of opportunity for empowerment, especially as regards women's entry into politics?
- What are the peacebuilding and empowerment agendas already being pursued by women in Northeast India? What are the key issues at stake?
- How do women activists and stakeholders in empowerment and peacebuilding relate to more powerful actors in the local community, and how does this affect their agenda?
- Do women have autonomy in asserting their voice politically? If their role in politics is to work for ‘women’s issues’, what might these issues be?
- Are gender roles in Northeast India impacted by efforts to promote women’s rights and gender equality? If so, do such efforts contribute to women’s empowerment?
- In politics, both female and male representatives must balance their obligations to follow the party line with their commitments to the constituency. Considering this, can affirmative action measures to usher more women into politics make parties more responsive to gender equality issues? Do these measures help construct electoral constituencies with an interest in gender equality? How do women go about demanding accountability and responsiveness from male representatives within their own party?
- What is and should be the role of civil society in peacebuilding and in women’s empowerment? What is the impact of civil society on the representation of women in politics?
- Which kinds of capacity-building measures would help women to assert their voice? Which are the most appropriate and effective?