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MODERNITY WITH DEMOCRACY : GENDER AND GOVERNANCE IN THE PEOPLE'S PLANNING CAMPAIGN, KERALAM

By: Devika, J.
Publisher: 2005; Centre for Development Studies-WP368 Subject(s): KERALA GENDER JUSTICE DEMOCRACY FRAMEWORK CIVIL SOCIETY POLITICAL SOCIETYOnline resources: Click here to access online Summary: This paper takes advantage of the possibility of a critical perspective afforded by the feminist perspective in analyzing the interactions between political and civil societies in the shaping of specific developmental interventions by the state, to examine the People's Planning Campaign (PPC) in Keralam. Implemented in the mid-90s, this was hailed as an important experiment in mainstreaming gender concerns in development. The objectives of this paper go beyond reporting on the degree of success/failure of the effort at mainstreaming gender concerns in the PPC, though it draws upon many such reports. It will raise a few questions essentially historical in nature: given the fact that political society in Keralam has never displayed any acute concern for gender justice, and that this was a marginal issue even within civil society here, under what conditions did it come to be acknowledged as a key element in a political experiment as momentous as the PPC? Gender justice has been addressed in people's planning (at least in some locations, to some extent) in some specific ways, excluding other ways- what determines this selection process? In the first section of this paper I trace the emergence of civil and political societies in 20th century Keralam, with special attention to the ways in which they have been gendered, and simultaneously worked as gendering spaces. This account may help us to understand how gender justice came to be both `in' and `out', at one and the same time, in the momentous political experiment of the PPC. In the second section, several points of agreement between numerous reports on gender and governance in the PPC are taken up and discussed in the wider historical context. These reports generally point out, for instance, that that the active involvement of social movements like the KSSP in democratic decentralization has not effected a significant change in the general attitude of misogyny prevalent in political society. The conclusion considers the implications of some of two significant developments, the entry of women into local governance, and the wide reach attained by the women SHGs - for the future of gender politics in Kerala.
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This paper takes advantage of the possibility of a critical perspective afforded by the feminist perspective in analyzing the interactions between political and civil societies in the shaping of specific developmental interventions by the state, to examine the People's Planning Campaign (PPC) in Keralam. Implemented in the mid-90s, this was hailed as an important experiment in mainstreaming gender concerns in development. The objectives of this paper go beyond reporting on the degree of success/failure of the effort at mainstreaming gender concerns in the PPC, though it draws upon many such reports. It will raise a few questions essentially historical in nature: given the fact that political society in Keralam has never displayed any acute concern for gender justice, and that this was a marginal issue even within civil society here, under what conditions did it come to be acknowledged as a key element in a political experiment as momentous as the PPC? Gender justice has been addressed in people's planning (at least in some locations, to some extent) in some specific ways, excluding other ways- what determines this selection process? In the first section of this paper I trace the emergence of civil and political societies in 20th century Keralam, with special attention to the ways in which they have been gendered, and simultaneously worked as gendering spaces. This account may help us to understand how gender justice came to be both `in' and `out', at one and the same time, in the momentous political experiment of the PPC. In the second section, several points of agreement between numerous reports on gender and governance in the PPC are taken up and discussed in the wider historical context. These reports generally point out, for instance, that that the active involvement of social movements like the KSSP in democratic decentralization has not effected a significant change in the general attitude of misogyny prevalent in political society. The conclusion considers the implications of some of two significant developments, the entry of women into local governance, and the wide reach attained by the women SHGs - for the future of gender politics in Kerala.

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