Critique of Statist Narrative of Women Empowerment in Kashmir

Operation Sadhbhavana, an initiative of the Indian state to “win hearts and minds” of the people of Kashmir, is an exercise in militarised humanitarianism which effectively enables increased interference of the military in civil governance. Such statist narratives of empowerment, providing women economic opportunities or funding under various governmental schemes, are insincere as people have no real control over their lives and spaces in the face of systematic state violence.

Over the last few decades, the hitherto dominant gender-blindness in academic works and policy initiatives has been countered by the stress on the need to fight gender inequalities and violence, and to ensure women’s empowerment for development. Prior to that, fundamental issues surrounding the lives of women and varied forms of gender-based abuse were not treated as violations of human rights, for women’s rights and human rights were seen as distinct (Bunch 1990). However, with the declaration of the United Nations (UN) Decade for Women (1975–85), the adoption of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1979, the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993, categorically stating that women’s rights are human rights, along with subsequent policy initiatives by governments across the world, gender has slowly but certainly marked its presence in the rights and development discourses. Even on the academic front, since the 1990s especially, the research on gender and feminism has become more institutionalised and recognised as a legitimate field of research. In 2005, Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary General, stated that

study after study has taught us that there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women ... no policy is more important in preventing conflict, or in achieving reconciliation after conflict has ended. (Australian Agency for International Development [2007: 4] cited in Porter [2013: 1])

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Updated On : 23rd Jan, 2018

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