Gender and Development

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSHS3DP2042

Semester and Year Offered: Semester 2

Course Coordinator and Team: Prof Anup Dhar

Email of course coordinator:


Course Objectives/Description:

The aim of this course is to enable students to apply the conceptual and analytical tools to critically examine the politics of, and policy relevant debates on, broad themes such as household, kinship and village structures, empowerment and rights, identities and social justice, men, masculinities, and development, and violence and gender relations. This course will build on and expand the inter-disciplinary analysis of key social categories (such as caste, class, religion) and their interconnections with social development concerns (such as poverty and social exclusion) in rural contexts. The course will pay particular attention to gender related issues, gender and development approaches and debates, and gender planning and mainstreaming in rural contexts. The objective is to enable students to grasp the complexities in and implications of politics and policy-relevant debates on the aforementioned themes. This course shall also be a creative dialogue between extant theories of gender and oppression and the experiences and observations of the students in rural contexts.

Course Outcomes:

On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Look at the question of ‘development’ through the gender lens, problematising the relationship between gender and ‘development’.
  2. Have critical and reflective awareness of the historical presence/ significance of the question of gender ‘into’ development
  3. Ability to locate gender and development question in actual rural context to Institute with community a transformative social praxis that would take care of the identified 'problem'
  4. Transform communities in directions that are in tune with social justice and well-being considerations

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

UNIT I Gender and development- the International Framework: The first module looks at the genesis of feminist and gendered perspectives and concerns in the International Development Discourse. Tracing its roots from the Women’s movement in the first half of the twentieth century paved the way for WID-WAD-GAD debate in the Western models.

UNIT II Questioning ‘empowerment’ amidst Feminization of Poverty: The second module bring views from Global South to critically interrogate the universal discourse of ‘woman’ to highlight multiplicity of subjectivities and therby exclusion and marginalization experienced by differently situated lives of woman across the world.

UNIT III Gender and Development in the Indian Context: The third module draws upon the diversity of experience of womanhood across multiplicity of subject positions including dalit, adivasi, religious minorities, borderland inhabitants of Kashmir and North-East, as well as Queers. These expose the diversity and contextually situated subjectivities of womanhood across India.

UNIT IV Gender, Reproductive Health and Body: Shifting to the policy domain vis-à-vis Gender, the fourth module looks at concerns of population rise, the policy issue of reproductive health and the politics of/over woman’s body. The module offers a genealogical study of the biopolitics of womanhood in the context of India.

UNIT V Gender and Domesticity: The fifth module explores the debated over public versus private spaces and the claim of ‘personal is political’ to critically understand the embodied and performative dimension of womenhood and the differentiated and diverse practices of patriarchy that constitute this subjectivity.

Assessment Details with weights:

  • Critical Review Paper: The multicity of women’s subjectivity (50%)
  • Reflective Paper: Condition of Woman and the Self Help Groups (50%)

Reading List:

  • Kabeer, Naila (1994). Reversed Realities: Gender hierarchies in Development thought. Chapter 1: The Emergence of Women as a Constituency in Development (pp1-11); Chapter 2: Treating Cancer with Bandaid? The Theoretical Underpinnings of WID (pp11-40); Chapter 3: Same Realities, Different Windows: Structuralist Perspectives on Women and Development (pp40-69); Chapter 4: Connecting, Extending, Reversing: Development from a Gender Perspective; Chapter 5: Benevolent Dictators, Maternal Altruists and Patriarchal Contracts: Gender and Household Economics (pp95-136); Chapter 8: Implementing the Right to Choose: Women, Motherhood and Population Policy (pp 187-223);
  • Ed. Parpart.L.J., Rai. M.S. & Staudt. K.(2002). Rethinking Empowerment; Gender and Development in a global/ local world. Chapter 1: Rethinking Em(power)ment, gender and development: an introduction (pp3-15). Chapter 9: Gender, production and access to land: the case for female peasants in India (Reena Patel, pp147-156).
  • Ed. John, Mary.E. (2008). Women’s Studies in India: A Reader. Chapter 4: Development; (Article) Feminism, Poverty and Globalisation (Mary E. John, pp 194-202); (Article) Why do Women Need Independent Rights in Land? (Bina Aggarwal, pp175-184)
  • Additional Reading
  • Ed. Jackson, C. & Pearson, R. (1998). Feminist visions of development; Gender Analysis and policy. Chapter 4: Jumping to conclusions? Struggles over meaning and method in the study of household economics (Naila Kabeer, pp91-108).

Additional Reading

  • Ed. Jackson, C. & Pearson, R. (1998). Feminist visions of development; Gender Analysis
  • and policy. Chapter 2: Rescuing Gender from the Poverty trap (pp39-65); Chapter 4: Jumping to conclusions? Struggles over meaning and method in the study of household economics (Naila Kabeer, pp91-108).
  • Ed. Visvanathan, N., Duggan, L., Wiegersma, N. & Nisonoff. L. (1997). The Women, Gender and Development Reader.