In development, there exists the rhetoric of poverty alleviation, and the rhetoric of gender. Both these are a part of an evolving discourse on development. “Schemes for the poor” taken up by the government in India are usually formulated and framed against the backdrop of this discourse. Most recently, we have had the Millennium Development Goals and now the Sustainable Development Goals. Some new objectives and new terminology are always introduced with these global initiatives. They are then translated into government policy, and implemented by government at various levels, often working through NGOs.
The rhetoric on gender in the development discourse has, since 1990, linked poverty and women in many different ways. We will look at how this is reflected in some of the ongoing “schemes for the poor”, before turning to what a gendered understanding of poverty actually implies. A gendered notion of poverty is one that must take into account issues of caste, and an understanding of how patriarchy functions in different situations for men and women. It must also consider changing possibilities of livelihood, displacement, migration, and violence.
About the Speaker
Prof. Wandana Sonalkar recently retired as Professor, Advanced Centre for Women’s Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). After graduating from Cambridge, she worked in Sangamner, Maharashtra before moving to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad, where she taught Economics. In 2005 she was instrumental in setting up the University’s Women’s Studies Centre. She has worked on issues of gender and caste, and is currently interested in developing bilingual models of teaching social sciences. Prof. Sonalkar has also translated a range of texts from Marathi into English, including Urmila Pawar and Meenakshi Moon’s book on Women in the Ambedkarite Movement, the autobiography of the Dalit communist activist R.B. More, and some short stories and poetry.