The focus of my work as a researcher, teacher, trainer and social activist is driven by a commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment, within broader issues of resource rights, social equity and rural development. Gender analysis underpins all my research, be it in relation to understanding changes in land and agrarian relations, migration, livelihoods, food and nutrition security, growth and well-being, equity issues in education policies and provisioning, or indeed processes of policy change. My book on land as a resource in the struggle over gendered identities entitled “Good women do not inherit Land": Politics of Land and Gender in India was published by Social Science Press and Orient Blackswan, New Delhi, in 2008, republished in 2012. My recent work on gender and land has been published by World Development in 2017. Titled 'Assets, Agency and Legitimacy: Towards a relational understanding of gender equality policy and practice', the article is available for free download upto June 2nd 2017 from https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1Ut9l,6yxCxIuA
Over the past three years, I coordinated an UNRISD research project entitled ‘When and why do states respond to women’s claims: Understanding gender-egalitarian policy change in Asia’, which sought to understand processes of claims-making in relation to the labour rights of women workers, in particular, migrant, domestic workers, and issues of violence against women. A special cluster of articles is forthcoming in Development and Change. The various country reports and thematic papers are available on the project website: http://www.unrisd.org/gender-claims
At present, I am engaged with two major research consortia, and am responsible for mainstreaming a gender perspective in them. The first, LANSA, or Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia, seeks to identify potential agriculture or food based solutions to the nutritional problem in South Asia. My personal contribution to this work has been to explore how gender relations and women’s work burdens mediate this linkage. The second, ASSAR, or Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions, a consortia under CARIAA (Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia), seeks to understand the barriers and enablers for effective adaptation within dynamic and socially-differentiated semi-arid regions. My specific focus here is on pastoralist groups in East Africa.
In 2016, with partners in Norway, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and India, we were successful in securing a research grant for a cross-country project entitled ‘Migration and collectives as pathways out of poverty: Gendered vulnerabilities and capabilities of fishing communities in Asia’. I am leading the India component of the study, with a focus on coastal Tamil Nadu.
I am a member of the Global Advisory Committee of the UN Girls’ Education Initiative, and have been invited as an expert on gender, land and livelihoods to several high-level meetings. Alongside research and advocacy, I have been involved in building partnerships and networks with research and teaching organisations globally, and also building the capacities of researchers and practitioners on conducting gendered research. This includes deepening theoretical insights to research design, data collection, analysis and writing.
The geographical focus of my work is mainly South Asia, though I am currently working in East Africa as well.
I have been the Co-Editor of Compare, A Journal of Comparative and International Education, supported by the British Association of International and Comparative Education, August 2010-16. I have also served as an Executive Council member, and Secretary, of the British Association of South Asian Studies, for six years.
I try to bring my diverse experiences into the classroom. Apart from teaching courses on gender concepts, livelihoods and social policy to both undergraduate and graduate students, over 15 of my PhD students, working on a range of issues including gender, agrarian reform, livelihoods, food safety, identity and policy development, have successfully completed their doctoral programme. I have been an external examiner for several PhD students at various universities in the UK and India.