SOAS University of London

Prof Naila Kabeer: Reflections on Researching Women's Empowerment - Journeys, Maps and Signpost

Naila Kabeer
Professor Naila Kabeer

Date: 24 January 2013Time: 6:30 PM

Finishes: 24 January 2013Time: 8:30 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Inaugural Lecture

I first came across the idea of women's empowerment in the context of grassroots movements in South Asia some time in the early 1980s. It was intended as a challenge to highly structuralist depictions of patriarchal power that dominated a great deal of the gender and development literature at the time and that left little scope for women's agency, as individuals or as groups, in countering these structures. Women's empowerment, and women's economic empowerment in particular, has now become a routine element of mainstream policy discourses, often losing its political edge in the process.  Yet for many of us, the challenge of women's empowerment remains as relevant as ever. Indeed it has taken on new dimensions with the rise of neo-liberal ideologies and various forms of fundamentalism since those years. I would like to use this lecture to look back on many years of working with this concept: what it means in the contexts in which I work, how my understanding of it has changed, what kinds of strategies have worked and how it links up to the broader concept of gender justice.

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Prof Naila Kabeer Inaugural Lecture: Reflections on Researching Women's Empowerment - Journeys, Maps and Signpost


Naila Kabeer has been Professor of Development Studies at SOAS for the last 3 years. Prior to that she was Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex. She has carried out research, teaching and advisory work in the inter-related fields of gender, social exclusion, labor markets and livelihoods, social protection and citizenship and has published extensively on these topics. Her books  include 'Reversed realities; gender hierarchies in development thought', 'The power to choose: labor market decision-making in London and Dhaka',  'Gender and social protection in the informal economy' and the forthcoming 'Organizing women workers in the informal economy: beyond the weapons of the weak'.  She is an Associate Editor of Feminist Economics and a member of its Editorial Board. She has recently joined the Feminist Review Trust.

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