Contextualising gender empowerment at the grassroots:: A tale of two policy initiatives

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The policy environment on gender is fraught with contradictions and contestation of varying degrees in India that does not disappear even as recent transformative mode of participatory initiatives seem to place women's agency at the core of empowerment agenda. Drawing from two collaborative projects at the grassroots, the paper argues that even well conceptualised projects miss the cutting edge distinction between women and gender and continue to engage with an instrumental logic of women's development and empowerment at the expense of issues of gender equality and equity in translating the intention into action. It is also observed, however, that spatially embedded social and cultural specificities impact policy discourse resulting in very different outcomes of conceptually comparable policy formulations. According to the author acknowledging spatiality of experiences provides a vantage point to critically engage with context-specific strategies to resolve gendered conflicts and tensions resulting from confining social relations and normative gender codes.

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