Working on gender in the Hindu Kush Himalaya

Mar 9, 2017
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, it is important to reflect on the importance of the inclusion of gender in academia. The goal of gender professionals is to ensure fair representation of marginalized groups in a variety of discourses – be it literature, science, history, or even current affairs and popular culture. A larger awareness of the need for an inclusion of gender in everyday discourse has been recognized since the inception of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Goal 5 of the SDG, “achieve gender equality and empower all girls and women”, calls for gender equality.
This SDG is not a singular goal. It is one that crosscuts other SDGs. SDG 5 is a precondition for achieving other SDGs. At the same time, all the other SDGs have implications for gender equality. Thus gender equality is now universally accepted as being critical for individual, community as well as national (overall) development.
Gender, women’s narratives, and issues of the marginalized are widely recognized in our time. Research and development sciences, as well as academia consider their inclusion in the everyday functioning of society essential. However, as a profession though, gender is still judged and often sidelined. Even reaching this point where working on gender is recognized as a career path is an accomplishment.
When we first started our careers in gender, backed by our degrees in women’s studies, development, and natural resource management, we were challenged by the difficulty of trying to explain to people the nature of our work without being misunderstood. The first impression most people had of us was that we would ‘teach’ feminism and ask communities to discard cultural norms, gender roles, and traditionally accepted structures and practices.
A career in gender is one that is both challenging and fulfilling, and absolutely necessary. The decision to work in gender for many of us arises out of the necessity to open a different perspective into an ever evolving world where we are both progressing and regressing. By far, the most exciting thing about working on gender is that we get to “unlearn” and learn in equal measure. But the study and work on gender cannot fit into a monolithic identity. It is hence necessary to have men and women from different experiences, contexts and cultures contribute to the birth of new discourses.
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Kuensel, March 8, 2017

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